Seitan is the food of Satan

Let me start by saying that I have nothing against vegans. If you choose (or need to choose) a vegan diet for yourself, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. If you invite me to your vegan wedding breakfast, I would like to comment on it. It’s a novel experience, probably the first time that I’ve had a completely vegan four course meal.

The guests sat down. We looked at the menu. And then most of us looked at each other in confusion. What on earth is seitan? I’ve been cooking for 20+ years and I had no idea. So I did what any modern confused person does. I Googled it.

Satan is wheat gluten. According to Wikipedia, it is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten. Sounds appetising doesn’t it? Looks that way too. It looks like this:-

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This was not how it was served at the weekend, but it was similar. It was like dry pork fillet medallions. As a meat substitute, it was an awful substitute. I don’t have lots of experiences of vegan and vegetarian food, but in my limited ones, it often seems that attempts to substitute meat fall flat.

Sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry. No meat substitute – no problem.

Mushroom risotto. No meat substitute – no problem.

Seitan replacing meat. Problem.

You get the point. The other point is that this stuff was foul. It was late, and I was hungry so I was eating it, but it was an utterly joyless experience.

Mrs MOFAD and I talked about this over dinner tonight (tasty venison pie/steak and ale pie). If you are going to do a vegan wedding breakfast, you need a really good kitchen team to do it justice. The hotel kitchen team where we were (more blog posts to come about them) could not do it justice. They struggled with various dishes on their international buffets each night, so we weren’t confident that they would be able to pull this off. There will be more about the hotel later, but for now you can take it from me that it’s no coincidence that seitan sounds like satan. The devil’s food.

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The Cake ‘Ole, Skipton, September 2017

Cake please!

After a gentle trundle around Skipton, we needed to stop off for tea and cake. There are plenty of options dotted around the town. We found ourselves in the Craven Court shopping centre and The Cake ‘Ole caught our eye (not least because it reminded us of Kerrie).

The wacky decor (sadly not pictured because we were too busy staring around the room and spotting things) certainly caught our eye so we grabbed a brightly covered table and ordered some tea, coffee and cake.

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Actually I was the only one who ordered the cake. Because chocolate orange cake.

Look at that dense deliciousness. It was lovely. A good cup of northern tea to go with it – proper loose leaves, none of this soft southern tea bag nonsense. Delightful mismatched crockery (this caused some uproar on Facebook) and all the mad decor. Lampshades without the shade (just the wire frame) with various birds perching on them, an upright cow, a crow watching suspiciously on. A selection of cuckoo clocks (and cuckoo clocks that made other noises). Pages of the Beano as wallpaper. A zebra.

Friendly and happy staff round things off nicely – a great place to pop in for tea and cake.

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.

700th post!

Another 4 months have passed and another 100 posts have been clocked up. There are about 30 or so that still need writing, and next weekend will see a lot of entries when we reprise the walking tour of Skipton from 2015.

A lot has happened in the last 4 months. We’ve experienced things that go bump in the night, and it happened a second time with a Cloudwater Make Apple Pie Great Again.

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The end of May saw the first month where a pub of the month award was not presented. A trip to Newcastle a week later soon ensured that June would not suffer such problems, with visits to Hop and Cleaver (an in house brewery and all the smoked meat goodness), the lovely Box Social (beautiful beers in a railway arch) and of course BrewDog. The weather was appalling but the beer was great.

The last week of June was consumed by holiday. Lots of lovely Cumbrian pubs, including good pub pizzas in The Crown in Coniston, an unplanned trip to the ODG, a curry and some fish’n’chips.

The sours night at The Needle & Pin was one of the highlights of the summer, lots of tasty and refreshing beers and some very interesting and rare items.

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There have been four visits to The Beehive in Combs, two in July, two in September. A really lovely village pub with great food and a decent cask ale always on. July is also the time for the new home made Hooky beer festival. After the let down of last year, we decided to hold our own. It was a big success, with lots of different beers sampled, and  Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery winning the festival.

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Some free beer arrived, and we made five trips to The Brotherswater Inn whilst we were camping at Sykeside in August. It was supposed to be summer, but we camped in a swamp due to incessant rain. Lovely pub though. We also had a 7 hour walk to get a pizza. Well, the walk came first, the pizza was an afterthought. We walked over from the campsite via Red Screes:-

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and tucked into a very hard earned pizza!

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Another quick shopping trip at the Hawkshead Beer Hall rounded off that little break in the Lakes and we were off to our other favourite national park a few weeks later for the Thornbridge beer festival. It had outgrown its home back in 2015 and it was a much improved (although still imperfect) experience this year.

September has been a busy month already, with that aforementioned trip to Combs followed by a trip to Liverpool which has produced 6 blog posts (and bit more publicity for the MOFAD).

A weekend off last weekend, Cloudwater night at the Needle & Pin last week, and we have just returned from cake camp, an annual event celebrating cake and beer and great laughs with friends. We’ve had four pub trips (four more blog posts to come, although the last one won’t be so effusive with its praise) and a trip to Stroud farmers’ market.

I just need some more hours in the day to write more posts. Maybe I can subcontract out to Kerrie, although she is very busy at the moment, working a whole 3 hours a month. It’s a hard life, but she’s worked hard to get it!

Lots more to come from The MOFAD. Will I get to 800 before Xmas? Possibly. Watch this space!

Stroud Farmers Market, September 2017

Stroud farmers market has already featured on the blog this year, as part of Mrs MOFAD’s marvellous market meander. Her solo trip was the inspiration for this visit, as we knew that we were going to be camping nearby this weekend, and a wander around Stroud was a nice gentle Saturday morning activity for everyone.

Finding a parking space was a different matter, and our group’s two cars had to part ways in order to both get parked. It’s clearly very popular.

We had a little stroll around all the stalls, wandering in and out, tasting a few things as we went. A lovely array of stalls, some very traditional such as bacon and sausages, bread and rolls, cheeses, and then other more “modern” stalls like charcuterie, vegan snacks, rape seed oil and olives.

My mission was beer, although there were only two breweries this time, Hillside Brewery (I’ve had their beers from Gloucester Services before) and Gloucester Brewery (who were here on Mrs MOFAD’s last visit).

We had a good bit of chat at the stall and I picked up four of their beers that I’ve not had before for £10, very good value. Matt also picked up some different ones.

Looking forward to trying these, the ones I’ve had so far have been very nice.

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.

Church Inn, Chelmorton, Derbyshire, September 2017

If this looks familiar (like the pubs from the last 2 days did), that’s because it is. We were here on Easter Saturday with friends for dinner. They were a bit funny about taking a group of 8, but eventually relented.

Today we had a morning walk around the village and surrounding area, and the weather was not on our side. Periods of rain and drizzle were upon us, such a contrast to the glorious weather of yesterday. We called it a day on our walk and popped in to the Church Inn for lunch. Luckily soggy walkers are welcome.

Walker’s reward today was Dexter’s UXB from Storm Brewing Co in Macclesfield. I had quite a few of their beers when we stayed in Higher Sutton last year. A good bitter golden ale and most welcome today.

Given the rather damp and dreary conditions that we’d been out walking in, I did consider something warming. But when there’s ploughman’s around, it’s always worth a go.

This one was a mixed bag. Lovely warm fresh bread, a tangy stilton and a rare boiled egg were the good bits. Tasteless coloured cheddar, horrible iceberg lettuce and a poor coleslaw were the bad bits. And where’s the pickle and sliced apple or bit of orange or something? The good just about outweighed the bad. A very close run thing though.

A bit of a mixed bag today, but this is still a lovely village pub. I just won’t have the ploughman’s next time as they need more practice…