On the 12/5/1987 in the Jewish holiday of lag ba’omer, when the state of Israel is filled with smoking bonfires, roasting marshmallows and the broken sounds of cheap guitars and questionable singing. I joined this world. I was told that I was a very happy baby, liked to play a lot and act a fool(which explains a lot about me these days). So to celebrate that! I did what I enjoy the most, with the one I love the most, she organized the day for us, and hit the spot with everywhere we went.
I started off the day with my favorite thing: A lay-in. I got back home at 1:30 am the night before because of a late table (who has dinner at 22:45??) so once rested and awake I opened all of my presents: lots of workout clothes and a brand new shirt! I won’t have to buy any clothes for the next year!!
After a very attractive session of trying clothes on (that I will spare you), we took the train to London for a very exciting pre-matinee lunch, in By Chloe; a new(ish) vegan fast food joint on Drury Lane, which has come from the U.S. (where there are already several restaurants across the country).
It’s not my first time here as I have sat here for a nibble before. I’ve also had a takeaway, but this was my first actual sit down meal there. We were quite keen and hungry to try the whole menu but we didn’t have much time, so had to choose wisely (and quickly).
I had the “Meatball” sub, “air-baked” 50/50 fries (potato and sweet potato) and Last Dragon kombucha.
Steph had the “sunrise” which is essentially a Brekkie burrito filled with tofu scramble, beans avocado and tomato salsa, mac and cheese, and the Smokehouse kombucha. Both kombuchas were of the same brand of “real” kombucha. Now as I have mentioned before my wife is not a plant-based eater, which to me makes her critic even slightly more impactful then mine.
Me: Probably the best thing we had that lunch; moist “meatballs” on a bun that resembled a brioche (menu reads potato sub roll) with loads of condiments on top. marinara, roasted peppers, pesto. The entire sandwich was meaty, zesty and herby.
Stephy: I was really surprised at how much the ‘meatballs’ actually tasted like meatballs! Dor ordered this and I was a little jealous (my burrito was also delicious – see below!) but there was something deliciously fresh about the pesto on this sub. Very tasty indeed!
Me: I was very skeptical about ordering these, in my pre plant-based days my favorite vice was thick crispy chips with a creamy mayo (preferably a spicy one), so the thought of skinny fries that are “air-baked” (a process where hot air is circulated around the food in order to produce a crispy result). I can’t say they were just as good as my old vice, but they were not bad as I thought they would be. Some were crunchy, some were soft, but they were salted nicely and they tasted so much better when I dipped them in the chipotle aioli (great!) and beetroot ketchup (not as smooth as the one that I had on my previous visits – and as a result wasn’t as nice).
Stephy: A mix of crispy and some-less-crispy potato and sweet potato fries. I love my fries and when dipped in the chipotle aioli (I could happily eat that alone by the tub load) these were pretty darn good. I like my fries crispy though so I think the less-crispy ones let it down slightly.
The “Sunrise” burrito
Me: I love burritos!! It has become a staple in my diet, mainly because a plant-based burrito is a vessel for tons of nutritional value (beans, brown rice, avocado). In this case the burrito had a tofu scramble, tomatoes. corn and avocado. I must admit that this was not up my alley, I think there is a fundamental problem of the use of cheap wheat tortillas that lack the earthiness and depth the real Massa tortillas have. I also have an issue with the combination of a scramble with tomatoes, I don’t mind it when its scrambled eggs with a salsa on top, but when mixed together I don’t like the liquidy flavor of the warm tomatoes mixed with the eggs or in this case, tofu. I had one bite and got back to my SUB!
Stephy: I also LOVE burritos (and Mexican food in general. Pass me a margarita!) and I was intrigued by the ‘tofu scramble’ on the menu. I have to say I was pretty impressed! It had the same consistency as eggs and tasted good – and I loved the avocado, corn, and salsa in the burrito as well. I added some chipotle aioli to spice things up a little (steered away from the Siracha which was provided on the side because I’m weak and that stuff blows my mind….literally). I’d order again as it was a nice brunch option!
Mac and ‘Cheese’
Me: This is my third time ordering their mac and cheese. It was still very creamy and delicious, but it was not as hot as it could have been and so we couldn’t taste the full spectrum of flavour. The ” bacon shitake” was chewy and not as thin and savoury as the last time, but the dish was still great tasting and I will order it again.
Stephy: This was probably my favorite savory dish we ordered! Honestly, if I didn’t know it was vegan, I wouldn’t have known. It tasted remarkably cheesy and what I loved about it was that the whole dish had a subtle kick to it. It was well seasoned and gave me that warm comforting glow that should come with this type of food. The shitake bacon gave some nice texture, but I don’t think the dish really needed it. Mushrooms are my nemesis though. (I know, I know. It’s a texture thing really!)
Kombucha: As someone who makes kombucha, I very often gasp at the insane prices that rear their ugly head when buying kombucha at a restaurant. While I don’t mind paying good money for a good product, this was five pounds 10p per bottle(!) a.k.a. the most expansive kombucha I have ever tried. I had the dry dragon, which was a tad more yeasty than what I enjoy. Steph’s Smokehouse was more interesting than mine and a lot fresher. What I do admire about this company is that they do make a great effort to create a quality drink that is low in sugar.
Stephy: Dor makes his own Kombucha (which is delicious!) but I can’t remember having one when out at a restaurant before. I opted for the ‘smokehouse’ because I like a smokey flavor and this didn’t disappoint. It was subtle, but the smokiness was there and it had tea undertones. YUM.
We both agreed that the cookie and muffin were great. I thought they were slightly too sweet (something that I feel like is a common theme in the vegan baking world) however they were very comforting, fun and texturally perfect. Steph’s cookie was as big as her head!
if you are ever in the area or looking for a pre-theatre or post theatre, go check it out!
NOW ITS SHOWTIME
A BAT OUT OF HELL
The first music video that I ever remember watching was the epic saga that was “I would do anything for love” (but I won’t do that).
The bikes, explosions, chases, love story!!! There were so many emotions in that long video that it was like a story from start to finish. So, going to watch this musical was some kind of closure, and I was so thrilled! Without giving away any spoilers I’ll tell you that this was an epic musical from start to finish. It was set in a post-apocalyptic world where the population has divided a love that blooms between the “good” and the “bad”. A gothy, rock & roll-y twisted romance filled with fights, dances, and songs (all written by Jim Steinman). Highly recommend it!
Last time Steph and I were here we stopped by for a tea and cakes. This time, though, I was keen to try some food. Wild food cafe is a long-standing establishment in Neals Yard (at least in terms of vegan restaurant survival rates).
This time around it was a miserable day outside, so we decided to enjoy a light dinner until it stopped raining. Wild food cafe has a nice, small, self-explanatory menu that doesn’t overwhelm you with exotically named ingredients (there were a few names I didn’t recognise, but the staff was knowledgeable and helped us out).
I ordered the Three chi-chai, Stephy had a White chocolate chai. My tea was hearty, warming, cinnamony and had some heat to it. But the winner was definitely the cold white chocolate chai smoothie, which was creamy, sweet and packed with spices. It had the creaminess of s milkshake without the heaviness of dairy-based shakes.
Determined to have some food before we went off home, we had a butternut squash “bruschetta” and almond butter and courgette tacos.
Me: Filled with avocado, dehydrated BBQ courgette, cashew sour cream, radish, and saurkraut, served with an alfalfa salad. I liked these although when trying to create something that already exists, you can’t help but think of the original version of it. A taco filled with hot condiments has always been a favorite of mine, however, this one was packed full of nutritional value. it was creamy and nutty, zesty and crunchy.
I have a textural issue with some of the raw vegan food options and so I wasn’t the biggest fan of the raw taco shell – mainly because I missed the crunch of the corn shell that I love so much. It also tasted kind of ‘wet’ to me, which I thought was weird. But I will say that I did enjoy the filling which was creamy and fresh. I liked the courgette in particular and the sour cream dressing was very tangy!
Me: Two slices of cooked butternut squash, lightly grilled, with macadamia “feta”, nettle pesto and asparagus tips. This was more of a warm salad then what I thought it would be. Not that it bothered me – it was an actually a nice surprise. Salty savoury “feta” and herby pesto dressing with crunchy asparagus tips to make a hearty salad. I would gladly eat this again.
Stephy: I much preferred this dish! Warm and tasty butternut squash (one of my fav veggies), which had been lightly grilled. I also LOVE asparagus and this was nicely crunchy. I am a huge fan of pesto (I’d eat it with everything!) so this dish was right up my alley. Delicious!
We didn’t have any pudding, but we like having something sweet at home every now and then so we took a “Cheesecake” with seasonal berries home. It was delicious!
Check this place out!
However, with too many calories in my system, I had to earn it!
A Running Tradition
Last year, inspired by Dean Karnazes (who, on his 30th birthday, while on a night out drinking, stripped down to his underwear, and went on a 30 mile run into the night) I started an annual birthday running tradition. As Dean said, “You don’t have to do 30 miles, do a 5k, do 500 meters, do something”. I decided that 30 miles would be a bit much for me, so off I went with no phone, no money, no water (I probably should have taken some water) determined to do a 30k run. I ran mostly on the Thames, all the way from Balham through Putney to Richmond. Once I got to the Ham area (around about 20k) I decided I felt great and I should extend my run to a full marathon. I turned around at 21.1k and with no alternative way of getting home other than running or walking (or crawling) I kept running freely and happily. When I reached 34k I started feeling really sluggish, dehydrated and tight, so I slowed down to a laughable pace and stopped for a drink at the Richmond Rowers Club. Feeling slightly recharged I remembered Deans words: “Run when you can, walk if you need, crawl if you must, but get it done”. I ran at a pace that felt like a crawl, but I made it back to the applause and cheer of dozens of fans (dogs and ducks at Battersea Park) calling my name in glory.
This year I opted for a modest 5k on the Thames: Surbiton to Kingston and back, and I smashed my PB, which is now at 24:50. I’ve set the bar high for myself, getting ready for the Bristol half marathon!
Once in 20 years! (Eurovision win)
We did it again!!
Every 20 years, 1978, 1998 and now 2018 Israel wins the Eurovision!! Neta rocked it with “Toy” with a very energetic, powerful performance doing us proud and taking the Eurovision back to Jerusalem next year!! So proud!!
So this was my birthday!! Probably one of the best I’ve ever had, spending it with my best friend, doing things we like doing and focusing on each other.
Thank you, Stephy, for being such a great companion!! I love you.
Coming up soon:
Training plans for a sub 1:45 half-marathon, as well as power meals and recovery meals (all powered by plants!!)