Le Potager du Marais, Paris

It’s been a while since I updated after my last study module and moving house… so it was a couple of months ago we went to Paris now, but I’d like to review a particularly excellent vegan restaurant there.

Eating vegan in Paris
On the whole, eating as a vegetarian or vegan is Paris is not actually that difficult, despite what the mind conjures when you think of traditionally French food. Yes, they tend to not let any part of the animal escape the cooking pot, generally speaking. But with a combination of forward planning and fortunately stumbling upon places, I did pretty well. It was certainly less of a herbivore’s headache than Brussels, but that’s another blog entry entirely. We stayed in Marais, in the troisième arrondissement. I chose this because the majority of the vegan/veggie restaurants are around here, but it was a lovely place to stay generally, kind of like an upmarket Soho.

Le Potager du Marais

This is the first place we ate when we arrived in Marais, for lunch. I’d already read La Potager du Marais Google reviews and printed off a location map. So in my heart of hearts I think I already knew what I was going to order. Vegan boeuf bourguignon <3 My dad always used to make the traditional version of this dish, served with mashed potato – one of my favourites. To my delight it was served with a big pile of garlicky vegan mash! How did they pull off the missing beef? Seiten. Hail seitan! Apologies, bad joke. Been watching a bit too much Vegan Black Metal Chef. (Check it out, the guy’s hilarious and there’s some good recipes.)

A quick note on Seiten…
Seitan is just a wheat gluten fake meat, think we most commonly use soy protein in the UK (as far as I’ve seen). They’d cooked it up to be soft, fall apart in your mouth and have a really similar texture to the stewed beef traditionally used in this dish, very convincing.

Back to the food
You’ll obviously never perfectly replicate the intense taste of beef and beef stock with vegan alternatives, but it certainly tasted like a hearty, delicious stew with realistic mock meat. I was also overjoyed to actually eat French food in France, rather than having to opt for other types of cuisine because it’s easier to find non-meat dishes in say, Asian restaurants. So this was an excellent start to the weekend. Here is a photo of my dish in all its glory:

Vegan boeuf bourguignon La Potager Du Marais

Service
The service was amazing considering the place was filling out by that point (about 1pm… ) – there seemed to be one chef and one waiter. They were attentive, friendly and made every effort to talk English after hearing our attempts at murdering their language ;)

Price
The food was a little expensive, but having said that they are an independent set up with bills to pay and high quality organic produce to source. We also can’t blame them for the rubbish exchange rate at the moment between the Pound Sterling and the Euro, plus Paris was expensive full stop. So I think in comparison to other places in Marais, this place really wasn’t overpriced. Especially since price is about perceived value – and my lunch was worth every cent :)

Don’t just take my word for it
As well as the Google reviews there’s a whole host of excellent reviews on Trip Advisor, where people are usually the hardest to please. Also Le Potager du Marais website is still under construction, so you can find the address and phone number etc through Trip Advisor too.

I highly recommend this place if you’re visiting Paris.

Vegan flapjacks

I figured I really needed to update this so I’m going to share the flapjack recipe that I used last weekend to make flapjacks to fulfil myself & my partner’s sweet cravings at work this week. This will be a nice simple post today as I’m feeling a little delicate after a friend’s 30th birthday last night (after posting about all the vegan beer I can drink last time around… and before I hear any tuts of derision I used the Cancer Research Dryatholon Golden Ticket for last night, so I’ll be donating extra!)

So, anyway, delicious flapjacks! They really do taste the best with the golden syrup but you can substitute all/some of this with agave nectar if you want to make a healthier version.

Ingredients:

  • 225g of any vegan margarine
  • 225g of muscovado sugar
  • 85g of golden syrup
  • 280g of porridge oats

How to make

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C & grease the baking tin you’ll use.
2. On a low heat melt the marg, sugar and syrup together.
3. Add the porridge oats and stir in well ensuring they’re all covered evenly.
4. Bake for about 30 mins, until the mixture is a golden colour. Leave to stand for 10 mins and then cut into squares.

Here’s a picture of mine before we cut them up (s’cuse the grubby hob top!):

Image

You can add fruit or seeds to these, but I prefer them plain. Enjoy! :)

New year, new vegan

So just a quick 2013 first post. Admittedly I’ve not updated for ages, but considering no one reads this yet, I think I’m forgiven automatically (!)

So I’ve decided to go vegan. I’m into my 2nd day of it. Yesterday consisted of just not adding the usual tonnes of cheese to everything… so it was easy. I’m glad to have done this in stages! It has, however, strike me, the amount of restaurants I now cannot eat in – including Carluccios – who make all their pasta fresh, with eggs! Which is a shame for me, but more upsetting for my long-suffering partner who now has more places we cannot eat together! Looking on the bright side, there are places such as the Thai round the corner (which does one delicious curry with no fish paste) & our usual Indian take out which will exclude any dairy when asked. Though I doubt veggie Balti even has anything dairy in! Just the naan bread I need to be cautious of…

I did, however, search online to explore my restrictions on beer & wine. I’d only got into drinking craft beer & ales in 2012, so it’d be a shame to have to quit these. Apparently Chimay, Duvel  & some other Belgian trappist beers along with some English ales are fine – as long as they’re bottled, not cask. Which was music to my beer-y ears. I found this comprehensive list of vegetarian/vegan beers here – where the author has gone to much trouble contacting the producers double-checking – which makes it easier for the rest of us. Really great tool, which can be looked up on a smartphone when you’re out. It’s the sort of thing which would be great as an app!

In terms of wine, I already order my vegetables from Abel & Cole each week – and the majority of their wines are vegan and start at just £6 something (which is what I’d pay at Sainsburys anyhow, except Abel & Cole have loads more selection for vegans). They also have many beers & ciders that are vegan, too. We also have a Planet Organic where I live which sell organic vegan beer, cider & wine… but they’re on the whole pricier and less selection than Abel & Cole (and since we already get their deliveries, it makes sense).

But enough babbling about booze. I’m doing the Cancer Research Dryathalon this month, which is probably why I’m doing all my research for February right now, so I can have some delicious vegan booze in stock for when I’m done! In terms of all the regular groceries that aren’t organic veg (Abel & Cole have great quality goods, you get different ones each week and it works out at a good price) like my fake meat, I’ll be using Sainsburys and shopping online (our Sainsburys is tiny). I’ll be switching from any Quorn goods (which contain egg – so they’re cutting out a whole market segment they could appeal to here – vegans – which is bizarre) to Sainsburys own brand meatfree – a lot of which is soy protein and no egg (though not all is – so be careful to read the packs). Also on the whole everything else we need for a weekly shop is lower price there – as sadly I can’t yet afford all my groceries from Abel & Cole! But they’re a great outfit and I recommend them (and I may well review them in another post when I get around to it!)

Sausages without ‘Walls!’

Righto. So two months ago-ish, I turned vegetarian. How/why etc I’m sure will be explored in another blog entry. But today I felt inspired by how much easier it’s been to be veggie because of the recommendations of those around me who’ve done it longer and therefore eaten all the gross options before finding the best. So I thought, I could do the same, on a larger scale (online), helping those who’ve just turned veggie – and hopefully – inspire some meat eaters to go veggie. Plan is to include food I cook at home & meals out (in London). I’ve already a wealth of experience over these two months, so let’s just hope I have the time to keep it up.

Bangers and mash

The best sausages for bangers and mash are the Cauldron ones, which you’ll find in the FRESH veggie food bit of any good supermarket. They can be frozen once you get them home. The texture is the best by far (most realistic) of all the sausages, but their herby, spicy flavour (which reminds me a bit of stuffing) lends itself really well to smothered in gravy. I tried these this morning in a fry up with brown sauce, and found they really didn’t complement it that well – think you need a simpler tasting sausage for the hangover cure!

Fry up

That leads me nicely onto fry up sausages. Linda McCartney’s frozen sausages – again should be available in the freezer section of your local supermarket. They are simple and plainer tasting, satisfying texture and taste great covered in brown sauce or baked beans (and would have been a lot nicer with my breakfast this morning ~sniff~) However there’s not much to them and they’re not that realistic a sausage in comparison with the Cauldron ones, so I wouldn’t be using these with bangers and mash or anything more complex in flavour like a casserole. Here’s one I made earlier:

sausages

Avoid at all costs

Quorn frozen sausages. These guys make some good veggie food (like their fake chicken escalops, yum!) but their frozen sausages have a texture like chewing gum in crispy shell and taste of nothing. Avoid! I tried their fresh ones which were an improvement, but still not as good as Cauldron’s ones. So this is an area Quorn need to improve on.

So there we go. My first Veggie Converter post. Hope someone out there will find it helpful, and watch this space – there’s plenty more to come.