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ravenousveggie

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

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Eating Out

Portion Size

Do you ever go out to eat but feel let down by the portion size?  Now I don’t want you to think I am a greedy person with ‘eyes bigger than my stomach’ (as my mother would say).  Its just that sometimes the portion size of veggie food is so much less than that of the meat and fish options. It just leaves you feeling short changed. And hungry.

One of the first things you get asked by non vegetarians is ‘where do you get your protein from?’  Sometimes I sit in restaurants and ask myself the same question.

On a recent visit to Champneys one of the evening meal options was teryaki braised tofu.  I thought this sounded wonderful as I love tofu. So I ordered it. The portion of tofu that turned up was miniscule.  There was one small two inch strip of tofu on the top of some noodles. By contrast those that ordered the meat equivalent had 4-5 similar sized pieces of meat.  They looked at my meal and all commented on the lack of main ingredient.

This isn’t the first time I have noticed this.  Wagamama has done the same in the past. The tofu portion size has always been small in comparison to the meat equivalent.    I am glad to report that this has improved with the latest menu.


More tofu in the latest portions from Wagamama

A local Michelin starred restaurant I went to served up one duck egg in a jus with a baby leek as a vegetarian main. The meat eaters had two slices of meat, plus veg and potato.

But it isn’t necessarily about protein.  Eating out one Sunday at a local gastro pub I ordered a main of pasta.  My other half ordered their famous roast dinner, which cost £15 – only £3 more than pasta dish.  The extra £3 made all the difference – the roast dinner had 3 times the amount of food. My pasta dish consisted literally of a plate of pasta.  No side salad, or bread. And it wasn’t a big plate. I finished my dish quite quickly and watched my other half continue to wade through his pile of food.  My pasta dish was about the size of the side of veg he had. And, apart from feeling hungry, I was left feeling slightly ripped off. £12 for a plate of pasta that probably cost £5 to make.

I don’t know why some restaurants seem to think that vegetarians have smaller appetites. I have not met one yet. Vegetarian food is much cheaper to buy so why charge the same for smaller portions size, and often less complex dishes.   Is it a lack of understanding and thought or is it greed – of the money kind?

Monthly Loves – April

April – a month of holidays, warmer weather and a special party

  • Seville – My partner and I managed to escape the cooler weather and spent 6 nights in Seville.  It is a lovely city, easily discoverable on foot (and lot of trams to get around on) plus great train links to other cities.  We also managed a day trip to Cadiz by train. Eating out as a vegetarian was interesting but not overly difficult. The restaurants in the centre generally had a better vegetarian choice.  The restaurants used by the locals were more limited, but did have better atmosphere. Our hotel also had an excellent environmental policy……

  • Dance In The Hurricane – I am a  big fan of Toyah and have been since 1980.  Her latest album, In The Court Of the Crimson Queen, is a great re-working of a previous album with some great new tracks added.  Dance In The Hurricane is probably my favourite new track. It is deeply personal and poignant and brings back memories to me of my own family.  
  • We celebrated my Aunt Meg’s 90th birthday, and I was put in charge of organising the cake for the party.  To be honest I was a bit daunted by this. I love cake and am great at eating it, but cooking or ordering one was a whole new world for me. I also had to please both my sister and my aunt.  No pressure then. Making it myself was an immediate no go. Time constraints and my inability to cook any cake that doesn’t come our brick-like were my biggest issues. But trying to find a cake maker who could do produce one was much more of a struggle than i expected.  Apparently they get fully booked up months in advance. Luckily for me I found Putty Cakes, who produced the most amazing cake, beautifully decorated and conveniently located on the way to the party venue.

Monthly Loves – January

January – the month of setting resolutions and getting back into work after the the Christmas break.  The days have been dark, and although the daylight hours are increasing, the temperature is dropping. It’s not my favourite month – the dark days do sap my energy, but there are the signs of longer,warmer days to come.  However I have come across a few lovely things this month…..

  • Beautiful lace like jewellery from Ruth Mary Jewellery.  Stunning pieces made by a very talented lady
  • Naughty but nice – my local corner store has started stocking a Mexican Mix by Silver Palm Foods.  I love the dried corn snacks you get and this has a mix of corn, dried beans and crisps in a spicy covering.  Naughty and very moorish!
  • The veggie/vegan options at Las Iguanas.  Great choice of food which made my meat eating friends a little envious!
  • Graze Veggie Protein Power Snack –  a much healthier option than the Mexican Mix with a great flavour.  A good go to elevenses pick me up.
  • Taking time out to have some quiet time.  A recent trip to a spa made me realise that there is too much noise and too many distractions in my life, which stop me concentrating.  But more of that in an upcoming blog…..
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Breakfast

Breakfast – seen as the most important meal of the day, and probably one that we often have the least amount of time to have.

In the hotel industry breakfast is probably the busiest time of day – the majority of your guests will book in for breakfast.  It is also the time when your guests potentially have the least amount of time. So breakfast needs to run smoothly and cater for all dietary needs.

So why does breakfast in a hotel frequently turn out bad?  I have seen a full hotel with queues waiting for breakfast because of understaffing and a lack of coordination.  

In some cases there seems to be a lack of attention to how quickly food needs to be replenished and tables cleared

I have been left hungry due to lack of communication of how long the vegetarian breakfast would take to cook – having to leave before it is ready.  

I used to attend a breakfast networking meeting at a 5 star hotel which has 89 rooms.  In our networking group there were usually about 20 of us each work. The hotel claimed it was too much work to provide 20 individual breakfasts (which were all pre-ordered).  Instead it was either a full cooked breakfast, or a continental offering (which was one pastry and some fruit). I always used to wonder how they coped if all the rooms were full and breakfasts not pre ordered if they couldn’t cope with 20 pre-ordered meals.

I understand that staff not turning up on time cannot be planned for, however managing expectations can.  As a guest if I know there is a problem in the kitchen, an ingredient isn’t available, or something takes slightly longer to prepare, then I can make my food choice  according to my time restraints. It is all about managing expectations.



Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash

I once worked in a hotel for a year.  Breakfast always ran smoothly as the head waiter would give training to the staff the day before and then watch like hawk as to what as going on.  He would give firm, but polite, instructions, so as to ensure smooth running and that guests left satiated and happy.

Looking at hotels now I rarely see anyone who appears to be in overall charge.  When there is they don’t appear to have the attention to detail and focus that I trained under.

I never know why there is so much secrecy over breakfast.  I’m not sue if there is a worse time of the day in which not be on top of your game, or not be communicating with your customers.

I’d love to know what your experience of hotel breakfasts has been.

A Fair Price

As a vegetarian its fair to say a number of people have commented on how much cheaper it is to eat out than a meat eating diet.

Most of the time I agree – vegetarian meals tend to be cheaper.  They have cheaper ingredients and tend to be quicker to make. However sometimes I think vegetarians pay over the odds for what they get.  

Today I went to a pub for lunch with friends.  They fancied a proper Sunday Roast and I knew that the chosen place did good roasts and also usually has a good choice of vegetarian meals.The selection was good, however the meals are on the pricier side – roasts stat from £15 and the vegetarian mains from £12.

But what do you get for your money?  For the roast you get three veg, the most enormous Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, gravy and of course the meat.   For the veggie meal I had a bowl of pasta with mushrooms and a a sauce. Not the most exotic or expensive ingredients. I declined the parmesan that came with it on the  grounds that A) parmesan is not vegetarian and B) I can’t stand the taste of it. And that was it. No side salad or veg. No bread nothing. My friends thought I was starving as the food disappeared so quickly, but the truth of the matter is that it was really difficult to eat a bowl of pasta slowly without it going cold. And the size of the roast dinner portion meant that you needed a good twenty minutes to eat it.  I admit finishing my main and feeling hungry – longing for the desserts (if only I could be sure which ones were veggie friendly from the menu).



Photo by Adam Jaime on Unsplash

I have been to some similarly priced establishments where the size of the salad justifies the price and you do feel that you have eaten a satisfying amount, had more than three ingredients. and still paid less.

I pointed this out to my friends and you could see the penny drop and general agreement around the table.  When it came to puddings the vegetarian friendly options were the same size as the other. So why the discrepancy for the main meal?  People don’t mind paying more when they feel that they are getting quality and value for their money.

More and more as a vegetarian I feel I am loosing out in restaurants, and that the price I pay does not reflect the portions I receive when compared to the carnivores.

 Just because I am vegetarian doesn’t mean I am not hungry!

Monthly Loves – December

December – that month of cramming in work, parties and shopping before a long break (if you are lucky) where time seems to stand still and days become one big blur..  

  • Christmas Festivities – although Christmas has changed for me a lot over the last few years, I still enjoying to see the energy and enjoyment it brings to so many people.  
  • I had a lovely Christmas meal with a client at The Half Moon at Warninglid.  Probably the best veggie meal I hd out this month. Not sure what the usual menu is like, but I know my other half will love the food there, so planning a trip back at some point.
  • Hot chocolate made with almond milk.  The best dairy free alternative and flavour combination I have found to date.
  • Mal Maison – probably my favourite hotel chain who also cater well for vegetarians.  The staff are always welcoming and the decor is sumptuous. Don’t visit very often but I am never disappointed.
  • Christmas Dinner – I made a simple but gorgeous veggie main using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s receipe for baked mushrooms with kale and walnuts. It went perfectly with all the roast veg and trimmings and was really filling. And it to no time to prepare and cook! Find the receipe in his River Cottage Much More Veg book
  • If you read my latest blog you will think I did nothing over the Christmas break, however I did spend a good few hours planning my business for the next 12 months.  Business planning sounds quite boring, but I am now focussed on what I want to achieve, and how to achieve it. I found it a very energising process and am looking forward to 2019.
  • Presents – my lovely friends and family showered me with an array of environmentally friendly and home-made gifts, helping my journey to reducing plastic and treading more lightly on the earth.

Monthly Loves – November

November seems to have gone by in a flash.  I was lucky enough to have a few days off work, which resulted in some great restaurant finds!  

  • Winchester -lovely place for a short break.  Beautiful architecture, great museum and lovely shops.  Mkre sure you go when the market is on – a lovely mix of stalls.
  • River Cottage Kitchen – I love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Much More Veg cookbook so took the opportunity to eat at his Winchester restaurant.  The food was amazing, although most of the veggie/vegan food options are side dishes. But don’t be disheartened. The portion sizes are good and the variety of choice leaves you wondering what to order, and hoping your meat eating  companions will order some of the sides so you can try them.
  • Incognito Cocktail Bar – An interesting and quirky cocktail bar, serving a lot of different drinks, with modern twists on your old favourites.
helena-yankovska-434536-unsplash
  • Kinder Tech – This is a small, local opportunity to have your tech issues answered and fixed for free.  Run by volunteers from the people behind The Kinder Living Show, this twice yearly event gives you the chance to find out what is wrong with your tech, possibly get it fixed and find out if it is worth fixing.  They will also take your old tech and make sure it is recycled.
  • I was lucky enough to attend the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.  A beautiful, emotional and humbling evening.
  • Green People shampoo – the only shampoo I have used that means I don’t need conditioner.  My hairdresser is amazed by it and is looking to get it stocked in the salon.

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.

 

Monthly Loves – October

What an interesting month October turned out to be.  It started by working for a client in Berlin for a few days and ended with some exciting changes on the job front.  In October I also loved the following:

  • The Ethical Consumer Conference – I have been meaning to go to this for the last few years and this year it happened.  A really interesting day covering various topics from fashion to plastic. It was also very inspiring to see so many women keynote speakers who are running their own ethical businesses.  Ethical Consumer

 

Monthy Loves - October autumnal colours

 

  • Autumnal colours – we have had quite warm weather this year which was abruptly stopped by a cold spell.  I thought I have just missed the opportunity to go out walking to see the changing leaves, but luckily managed  a f
    ew hours enjoying the seasonal changes of colour

 

 

  • A fabulous meal at Sagar Restaurant.  A refreshingly different vegetarian/vegan Indian restaurant with three branches in London.  Sagar

 

  • After a particularly long and testing day at work on a very cold day getting home toIMG_0611 make my favourite comfort food – chickpeas, garlic and pasta – or Tuoni E Lampo as it is sometimes known.  I found this recipe many years ago in Rose Elliot’s book ‘The Bean Book’. Quick and easy to make. You can also add chilli, broccoli and
    pine nuts to make it into a more substantial meal.

 

 

 

 

  • This recipe for baked gnocchi from The Green Roasting Tin. A fabulous cookery IMG_0606book with both vegetarian and vegan dishes.  Will definitely be making more dishes from this book.

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Forge, Slindon, Sussex – I met a client here and we had the most wonderful lunch.  All freshly made, sourced locally and with with a veggie/vegan range of cheeses. It is also the village shop and well worth a visit.  

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