The Cookbook Which Will Change Your Opinion On Vegan Food

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Peace and Parsnips by Lee Watson is an astonishing book bursting with delicious and highly innovative recipes. For me this is more than just a standard vegan cookbook. Vegan food is still quite misunderstood (although this has been changing dramatically in just the last few years), which is a shame and sadly there are still the same old tired cliches being thrown around. Unfortunately there still exists a contingent of people who give Veganism a bad name and so the stereotypes continue.

Peace and Parsnips smashes all these stereotypes and preconceived notions to smithereens. Where it really excels is in presenting vegan food in an exciting, adventurous and interesting way. And it is a cookbook with attitude, which is refreshing as most cookbooks can be a dull and bland experience. If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, then you will love this book. And like Bourdain, Watson has travelled extensively around the world and this can be seen clearly in the book. He also has a fantastic blog called the Beach House Kitchen, which contains hundreds of delicious vegan recipes as well as lots of great photos from his world travels.

This is a global cookbook with an extraordinary vegan twist on world dishes. It is a compendium of awesomely healthy and tasty recipes for everyone, not solely vegans. I am a non-vegan yet from time to time I like to have good and tasty no-nonsense food, which is meat and diary free. This book has been perfect for me in this respect.

Some of the recipes are truly off the wall. The veggie burger and falafel recipes are top notch. The Portobello Pecan Burger with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges recipe is a winner as is the Chickpea, Squash and Apricot Burgers with a Red Onion, Orange and Black Olive Salad recipe (takes falafels to another level).

 

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                                    The Portobello Pecan Burger with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges

 

I am a huge fan of Indian/South Asian cuisine and this book doesn’t disappoint. The ‘Curries’ section contains some very exotic, hearty and delicious curry recipes. The Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad is a truly exquisite and wonderfully tasty south Indian dish. I also highly rate the Kashmiri Turnip and Spinach Curry with Beetroot Raita and the Pakistani Pumpkin and Beetroot Bhuna with Banana and Lime Raita; just those names alone are enough to wet anyone’s appetite!

 

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                Keralan Coconut and Vegetable Curry with Pineapple and Watermelon Salad

 

The dessert section (‘Sweet Treats’) of this book is a veritable delight. Particular favourites are the Raw Spiced Apple and Date Pie (an amazingly tasty and inventive raw dessert consisting of apples, dates and cashews and walnuts), the vegan Choc and Beet brownies (the richest and most delicious brownies I’ve ever tasted), and the Brazil Nut and Chocolate Spelt Cookies (delicious and very easy to make. Its also a brilliant recipe if you don’t have lots of free time to cook and would make a great and highly appreciated treats for friends and family members).

 

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                                                                     Choc and Beet Brownies

 

This is an outstanding cookbook and a real labour of love. The writing, photographs and general layout of the book are first class and would make a wonderful companion for anyone with even just a passing interest in vegan cuisine. More importantly, I feel that once you have immersed yourself in this beautiful book and given some of the many exciting recipes a whirl, you will begin to look at vegan food in a completely different way. Indispensable.

 

by Nicholas Peart

3rd June 2016

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Bocca Dolce Cafe: Sensational Vegan Food In A Paradisiacal Setting

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The interior of the Bocca Dolce Cafe

 

The Bocca Dolce Cafe is a paradise of a place situated in the beautiful Quarry Lake Estate around the Wittedrift area close to Plettenberg Bay and planted firmly on the lush and infamous Garden Route in South Africa. The heavenly location alone is enough to warrant a visit. I am also told that they have excellent coffee, which I completely believe judging by what I’ve seen on my few forays over there. Sadly for me, I am not a coffee drinker.

 

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The beautiful surroundings

 

But for me it’s not about the beautiful location (yet it’s certainly a bonus) or the excellent coffee. My primary reason for visiting (and returning) is the divine, delicious and generous weekend vegan buffet they serve up every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm. I suppose one could split this abundant and tasty vegan buffet into three categories; Salads, Mains and Desserts.

The salads alone are a meal in itself with about 10-12 different selections to choose from. The selections change each time yet my personal favourites are the curried potato salad, the chick pea salad, the beetroot salad, the spinach, broccoli and bean concoction and, last but not least, the sublime humus. With such a selection I often run the risk of not leaving any space for the mains or desserts.

 

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My plate loaded up with some delicious salad selections

 

Now for the mains. The highlights for me are the vegan lasaña and the vegan curry. Both are excellent and very tasty. There is also a table loaded with a grand selection of different and exotic vegan snacks. I particularly love the vegan satay kebabs.

 

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Delicious and exotic vegan snacks

 

Finally the deserts. It would be a crime not to leave any space for those (easily done). Like the salads, the dessert selections change each time. On my last visit I got very lucky with the desserts to the point they became the highlight of the buffet that day. That day some of the dessert selections included a sensational vegan trifle, a very rich and delicious vegan chocolate and date cake, and a good no-nonsense vegan apple crumble. I have a weakness for trifle and I was very impressed with the textures, flavours and even creaminess of it all made a la vegan.

 

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Exquisite vegan desserts

 

If you can’t make the weekend buffet the salad buffet is available on the weekdays.

The Bocca Dolce Cafe is a special place. The exceptional food notwithstanding, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The place is a real labour of love designed and created very tastefully with beautiful furniture and artworks on the wall by local artists. I highly recommend dropping by if you are in the area.

by Nicholas Peart

16th May 2016

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