Cookies and Scream

The thing I look forward to most about visiting London, i’m unashamed to say, is not the culture, the night life, or the shopping (although all that stuff is great I guess). No, the best thing about London is the marvellous array of vegan goodies available, just waiting to be consumed by junk food addicts like myself. If you’re looking for full fat, full sugar, fully divine vegan sweet treats, get yourself down to Cookies and Scream this instant. I mean it. Go, go right now.

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The brilliant thing about Cookies and Scream is that is has two locations, a stall in The Market Hall at Camden Lock and the bake house on Holloway Road. I’m sure I must have purchased from the Camden stall before, because as I took that first  mouthful of Cookies’ own peanut putter cookie pie on my visit to the capital last weekend, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia not unlike a resurfacing childhood memory, happy and sweet (hold the bitter).

I wanted to sample everything on offer, but sadly due to the sheer size of the portions (very generous) and my body’s limited ability to regulate all that sugar, I had to settle for sharing two cakes and milkshakes with my friend. We indulged in the ‘Chico’ pie and the ‘Beelzebub’ pie, a rich, chocolatey no-bake mud creation. We also chugged our way though a cookie dough milkshake and a brownie milkshake. After finishing everything, it’s safe to say we were pretty much laying face down on the floor of the cafe in candy comas.

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If you are braver than I and want to sample more that just two cakes, you wont be strapped for choice; they do cookies, brownies, donuts, and more signature pies like Banoffee, Blue Moon, and Donnie Darko (choc mint mousse). They bake fresh every day so it’s best to just turn up and be excited for the surprise ahead. Oh did I mention that while we were stuffing our faces, the staff had picked a fantastic hardcore punk and post-punk playlist for our listening pleasure? I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, with a name like ‘Cookies and Scream’, that this fantastic little bakery draws an alternative and liberal crowd. But it is far from hipster, and the staff are super friendly and will give you recommendations and talk you through any of their bakes.

The portion sizes are well worth the (very reasonable) prices, and well worth a special trip across London to indulge in. Personally I am pining for a branch to open in Nottingham so I can eat it every day. Please, Cookies and Scream, please come to Nottingham I beg you.

130 Holloway Road, London, N7 8JE | Mon-Sat 9-8pm, Sun 11-8pm | T: Highbury and Islington Station | menu changes daily 
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Revolver/Mission Taco

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Those who have passed through the Norwegian capital will know one thing; it is expensive as all hell to do anything, but especially eat and drink. Mission Taco and its sister bar next door, Revolver, are an oasis of culinary vegetarian goodness in a barren desert of takeaway pizza and reindeer meat.

Okay so reindeer meat wasn’t all that common, but as a vegetarian I often felt like my choices were limited during my stay in Oslo. I thank the gods that Mission Taco was only a ten minute walk away from the hostel where I was staying. Not only do they deliver delicious, authentic Mexican dishes in a quick and cheerful manner, but the prices are very reasonable. Portion size is great and never left me wanting for more. The ingredients they use are fresh and full of flavour and I was delighted to see homemade queso fresco, pico de gallo, and jalapeño slaw on the menu. They also make a deliciously fresh pineapple salsa. I am not a huge fan of pineapple but this salsa was perfect; juicy, hot, and perfectly balanced to the savoury flavours.

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Having tried every dish on the menu because I loved the place so much, I have to say that my favourite dish was the quesadillas and I highly recommend them if you find yourself is Oslo any time soon. Lightly crisped tortillas filled to bursting with beans, cheese, rømme (traditional Norwegian sour cream, giving it a unique touch!), pico de gallo, salsa and lime, eating them was heaven and I could happily survive on them for the rest of my life. However, after a single serving of three individual large quesadillas costing 120 Krone (about £12) my appetite was fully quenched and contented. After a chilled apple cider (with extra lime cordial because I frikking love lime) I wondered sleepily into the bar next door to see where the cool music was coming from.

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I wasn’t sleepy for long as I absorbed the uniqueness of Revolver, probably the most important bar and venue in Oslo for underground and indie musicians. Decorated with album artwork, taxidermy animals, and a bizarre tapestry of tropical parrots, Revolver quickly because my second home in Oslo. There were three reasons for this. One, the atmosphere was incredible friendly. Sometimes in an indie venue you get the typical indie vibe of pretension, indifference, and exclusiveness, but this was not the case in Revolver. People smile, talk to you and make you feel welcome. Two, the staff are bloody lovely people. Sit at the bar and chat to them and you will end up in deep conversation about music of all genres, Norwegian history, and the bizarre ritual used to distill Scandinavian festival drink, Akvavit. Water of life indeed. Three, the cocktails are out of this world and really not that expensive compared to a lot of other drinking establishments in Oslo. The staff have created their own unique list of flavoursome cocktails, each with a story behind them. So stick around, sample a few and ask about those stories. You will not be disappointed.

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Aside from delivery amazing beverages, Revolver host regular gigs and club nights. There is a real DIY ethic here and bands of all kinds are welcome, from black metal and doom to jazz and spoken word. You can see a schedule of their upcoming shows here. Along with local and indie bands there have been some big names here too, like Plan-B, and Fenriz from black metal powerhouse Darkthrone. What’s great about this bar is that it brings people from all walks of life together, with different tastes but the same lust for life. The fjords may be beautiful, but you won’t meet a friendly bar man there who knocks substantial dollar off of your drink prices just because it’s your birthday and he thinks you’re a sound guy. You need to go to Oslo to get that experience.

Møllergata 32, 0179 Oslo | Tel 22202232 | Bar open Mon to Sun 6pm-3.30am| Kitchen open Thurs to Sat 3pm-10pm, Sun 12pm-8pm | http://www.revolveroslo.no

V Revolution

Manchester is a thriving metropolitan of artsy liberals and activists of all kinds. Naturally, it is fantastic for its choice of vegan cuisine. Perhaps my favourite spot for meat and dairy free nosh is V Revolution, a junk food haven in the lively Northern Quater.

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What I love about this unique spot is that it doesn’t attempt any healthy new-age superfood stuff. This is burgers, hotdogs, milkshakes, the kind of food you want to eat your weight in when you’re suffering from a hangover. It’s hearty, flavoursome, and rich.

Long with their regular menu there is a daily special, every one with a fantastically cheesey  (or cheeseless?) name. On the last day I took a visit they’d plotted the Tomacco; burger, cheese, bacon, baconnaise and spicy ketchup, all totally vegan.

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As if this isn’t enough, this delightful diner also sells a selection of vegan snacks and sweets to take home with you.

The prices are affordable and more than fair for the amount of variety and different vegan food stuffs you get to sample. There isn’t a lentil or chickpea in sight, not that i’m adverse to these, but it was exciting to try the wide variety of condiments, cheeses, and crispy meat flavoured toppings that my broke self cannot afford in a typical weekly food shop.

I would recommend the ‘Knights in Satay’s Service’ burger (‘chicken’, peanut butter, siracha mayo, chilli and rocket) along with a chocolate soy ice-cream milkshake for the most satisfying vegan junk fest of your life.

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88 Oldham Street Manchester M4 1LF | Mon to Sun 12pm-6pm, closed on Tues 

Stollen 1930

This is perhaps one of the coolest places I have been to on earth. This hidden, and I mean really hidden, jewel of a bar resides underneath one of the original Tyrolean taverns, the 600 year old Auracher Löchl hotel in Kufstein.
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Think of a traditional Bavarian beer hall complete with random suits of armour, barrels everywhere, and large Gothic script adorning the outside walls, and you’re halfway to imagining the hotel. Now picture descending into what looks like a dark cave and feeling slightly unnerved, until realising that you are in a subterranean gin museum.
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Gins from every time period, location, and distillery are mounted behind protective wiring, steering you through a dimly lit passageway to the bar. The man bar area is vast, considering it’s in 600 year old cave. Small alcoves with tables adjoin the main area, so you can claim your own booth in which to enjoy the vast and impressive cocktail menu.

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The gin menu alone is the size of a small novella, but you can also order rum, gin, alcohol-free drinks. For those who prefer a brew, there is an excellent selection of beer from Belgium, Ireland and England. The staff are friendly and extensively informed about their alcohol, so feel free to ask for recommendations.

Personally, I recommend the ‘Smokey Gin Pipe’. It tastes like Christmas and it comes in this cool as hell glass.

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Römerhofgasse 4, 6330 Kufstein | www.auracher-loechl.at/stollen1930 | Mon to Sun 6pm-2am | Tel +43.5372.62138

 

Bru Coffee & Gelato

This luscious little place is where I like to go for lunch most days when I am at work. Leicester has a lot of fantastic little independent cafes in the Calls and away from the city centre, and Bru is among the best of them.

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Particularly suited to those with a sweet tooth, Bru offers a mouth watering variety of cakes, waffled, crepes, milkshakes, tea, and coffee. They also offer a convenient yet gourmet selection of breakfasts for people with little time in the morning; you can choose from their choice of cereals, porridges, and freshly baked croissants. All of these, of course, can be ordered to go.

The door to Bru is always open and a constant concoction of delicious smells and upbeat music floats down Granby Street. The cakes and gelato selection are displayed behind a thin layer of glass, drawing in hungry passers-by. It’s the gelato that got me; bright colours and exotic flavours like Stem Ginger, Fizzy Cola, Apple & Cherry, and Peanut Butter Delight will tantalise your eyes and taste buds.

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Here are some ways you can enjoy the Bru gelato:

  • Affagato- a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla Gelato
  • A Bru Bronkie (a combination of a cookie and a brownie)
  • Leige Waffle and Gelato
  • A milkshake
  • A sundae

Personally, I recommend all of them. They are that good.

Also, did I mention the whole place is decorated with books? There is a definite literary feel to the atmosphere and the friendly environment means that you can go in and do some writing, read a book, do some homework etc. It feels a lot like you have just stepped into a bustling cafe in New York, where the people are creative and the food even more so.

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20-22 Granby St, City Centre, Leicester LE1 1DE | Mon to Thurs 7:30am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 9:30am-10pm

Tea und Kraft

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My sister is currently living in the popular holiday destination of Söll, Austria. During winter the picturesque village is packed with skiers from all around the globe, who also like to spend time in the nearest neighbouring town, Kufstein.

Kufstein is a delightful mixture of quaint Austrian charm and modern sleekness; traditional wooden houses with flowers bursting from every window sill sit contentedly alongside the neoteric architecture of the University of Applied Sciences campus.

One place that gets the mixture of Austrian authenticity and exotic flare particularly spot-on is Tea und Kraft, a teahouse located on the main route into the town centre.

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This huge beautiful building with its wooden shutters and ornate balconies is somewhat of a centre for peaceful living; not only does the cafe offer over a hundred different types of tea to drink and buy, but it also hosts workshops on subjects like yoga, alternative therapy, healthy cooking for families, and more.

The team at Tea und Kraft are obviously well travelled and have drawn ideas from global cultures to influence their work. This is prevalent in both the interior decoration and the small ‘kraft’ shop at the back of the cafe. Here you will find wall hangings, incense burners, candles, small statues of Buddha made from jade, and many other homely treasures.

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It was a hot day when  I went to visit and of course they offer some brilliant cocktails too! I can recommend the grimly named ‘Black Heart’; don’t be deterred, it is actually like a sweeter Long Island Iced Tea with a lovely garnish of cherries and physalis.

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Among the multitude of teas you can order, your hosts offer a traditional Japanese style family serving which includes a pot of green organic Matcha Tea and three delicacies from their bakery.

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Salurnerstraße Nr. 5, 6330 Kufstein | Tue to Sat 10:00 – 18:00 

Dolcino

Growing up in Loughborough, it is easy to overlook the things that make it unique. Being a cynic when it comes to my hometown I was reluctant to see what it had to offer on my return, which was extremely foolish of me because I might never have discovered this veritable feast for the eyes and tongue, Dolcino.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look like much from the outside. On the inside however it could be the lovechild of a classic American 1950’s dessert diner and a kawaii themed cafe nestled in the heart of Tokyo. The pastel turquoise booths are tasteful and comfy and there is a definite 60s mod vibe emanating from the mopeds, pop art, and unions jacks dotted around the space. The upbeat, bright atmosphere is heightened by a suitable 60s dance playlist

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What really makes it special is the menu. On display is a wide range of gelato including interesting flavours like Blood Orange, Ferrero Rocher, Oreo Ripple, and Tangy Apple, but this really is just the tip of the, eh, ice-creamburg. There is an extensive menu of sweet and savoury crepes and waffles, and as well as huge decadent sundaes, calzones, sandwiches, cake,  and pastries. There are also menus for kids, vegetarians, and gluten free diets.

Some highlights include the succulent green macha cake, the ‘Nick the Greek’ crepe with falafel, humus, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, red onions, black olives, extra virgin olive oil,
lemon juice, and the ‘Wide Load’ waffle with diced Mars Bar, fresh strawberries with chocolate sauce ginger biscuit & whipped cream.

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Perfect for a light snack, brunch, or unbridled death by sugar, a Dolcino is a sweet tooth’s paradise and an essential stop if for some weird reason you are ever passing through Loughborough.

4 Cattle Market, Loughborough LE11 3DJ | Mon to Sat 9:30am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm | Tel: 01509 210382