I have only been eating plant-based for the last few months and recently have been really enjoying exploring the vegan/plant-based world and the number of very interesting foods and brands out there especially. This is party due to my general love for exploring new things, but also as want/need to new foods to help supplement my new lifestyle. For example, I know that I am not alone in that one of the biggest hesitations to going plant-based from vegetarian was cheese – for me personally it was thought of giving up good pizza and the need to at least have cheese on pizza (but that is a story for another post – how I became plant-based). Good Dairy-free cheese is something that I am still exploring, as there is some not very good ones on the market which aren’t good cheese substitutes and also simply not nice to eat regardless of the aim of the food.
So why are I telling you about my cheese treasure hunt? Because when at Vegfest, I found a really interesting london based ‘cheese’ brand, Kinda Co. (Adore the name, Kinda Cheese), but sadly they were sold out. With the coming up holidays, I was really wanting good cheese. Plain and simple. In addition, I didn’t want to miss out or stand out with the family having cheese. So in my head, I thought I had seen on Instagram that they would be at Broadway Vegan market, so got myself there to walk around the stories and not find them – odd – check bio and no is Hackney Downs Vegan Market. Firstly like to say yes, i know I am an idiot and I should read more carefully, but Secondly, imagine my surprise when I find out there is two designated vegan food markets weekly in London. Well this didn’t stop me, got goggle maps out, the market was just another 35 min walk, so off I went on a hunt for cheese.
You can live in a city all your live and not really know it, this walk thought me through stunning packs of Hackney that I have never seen before and I also got a lovely sunday walk in. Then just like that, I heard people talking about vegan doughnuts and I turned down a small street and was at the Hackney Downs Studios. The market was relatively small (but also very good size for a weekly only vegan market) but straight away you knew it was really open, happy space, community-based and bohemia, it was instant love.
First things First – Kinda Co Cheese Hunt. I was a women on a mission after all. I found the stall and the always friendly Ellie and got straight into tasting, as half the stock had gone already. Ellie, runs the company herself, and at the moment is just a small batch company but you can tell she loves what she does and loves interactive with her customers. I had wanted the lox spread but sold out, but there was also the Nacho Cheese, which is so good, looks like that terrible fake cheese you get at the cinema on nachos but is so much better for you, full of nuts and spices with a great silky consistency (had to get two). Then I picked up the last greek style marinated in olive oil and garlic – think feta basically. It tasted really good (of course not feta but doesn’t need to be exactly) and would work so well in salads, so I can have that big fat greek salad again.
Then I moved on to doughnuts after hearing all about them from people leaving the market. Doughnut Society , I know now to be a vegan institution on the London scene. As you can see from below, they had mounts of doughnut of all different flavours, so it was obvious that I would go for the four doughnut deal. I went for creme brûlée, mulled wine, blueberry and cookie dough. I was very good and kept them for home. I started with a late afternoon snack with the creme brûlée doughnut and lets just start off with OMG – the texture was so light and fluff and it wasn’t too sweet. Regardless of it being vegan, it was one of the best doughnuts had eaten. Then in the following days I tried the rest, the mulled wine flavour blew me away, as it really did taste of that spicy red mulled wine in frosting, with the addition of cute little star decorations. The chocolate cookie dough was very indulgent but not ridiculously sweet, just right, and the cookie dough, again one of the best ever had (and again thought that was something I thought i wouldn’t get anymore living a plant-based lifestyle). Blueberry one was light and refreshing. I true winner, and am slightly thankful I can’t get them regularly as would be hard for my will power, as I would want to work through all the flavours. Good news though that are opening a doughnut and coffee vegan cafe in Hackney so will definitely be making a visit soon.
There was lots of good food and products to see from vegan cakes, beer, soap and clothing. There was also a number of food vans, and as it was late afternoon I thought why not getting me some lunch, when in Rome.
There was lots of lunch options, from Vietnamese sandwiches, to salads, to vegan pies from Young Vegan.(I have had their Mississippi mud pie, but didn’t know they did savoury ones, so adding that to my vegan hit list of things to try in 2018). Nevertheless I had to join the queue and go for a classic, Temple of Seitan – similarly I have had their fried chicken before but not their mac and cheese, so one Hot Chicken + Mac, please.
I went inside and sat down to eat. I will admit this is not the sexist or easier thing to eat, as they say not necessarily date night food, especially with just a small wooden fork. It did get me some attention from a lovely girl who was sharing my table, who asked me all about it and shared about how good her ‘turkey’ pie was. Well, as I informed her, the ‘chicken’ was nice and crispy with great spicy and really solid ‘meaty’ chew to it. The Mac was indulgent with how thick and creamy the sauce was. Both were so good and filling that I couldn’t eat the entire plate. It did get me some attention.
Overall, Hackney Downs Vegan Market’s success especially with its variety of stalls is a testament to how the plant-based/vegan lifestyle is growing. There was hundreds of people there on a cold and wet Saturday, in an areas with not really much transport links The location is a bit of a major down side of the market, it is a bit out of the way, but that might also be part of its success. I hope one day, that there is an entire plant-based section at all local markets include borough. It is a great way to promote the lifestyle and the great brands and food that are being created. Nevertheless, I will be back, for no other reason but to buy more cheese.