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  • Tofu Travel Blog: Vegan Norwich

    Norwich, the capital of Norfolk, is the home to a Cathedral and a Castle, a newly-relegated football team, a big river, a permanent outdoor market and is a warren of cobbled streets. There’s cafés, independent shops, 36 medieval churches and a burgeoning arts scene. Norwich also apparently boasts 365 pubs; one for every booze-fuelled day of the year. For us, Norwich sits happily alongside Brighton, Lancaster and Frome as a vegan mecca in the UK. With organic, veggie places, a Senegalese basket shop and live music in the pubs at it certainly ticks boxes.

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    Baskets galore

    The city oozes a general feeling of support for the fellow artist and champions independent enterprise. We saw a local art student’s tattoo designs exhibited in a pub which was in turn promoted in a clothes shop. At one restaurant you can buy take-out food and eat it in the pub over the road. Admittedly it was a fish and chip shop so we couldn’t actually do that, but you get the idea.

    Our first port of call in Norwich is Wild Thyme Vegetarian Café. Tucked away in an alley reminiscent of Berlin and above a comprehensive Health Food Shop bang in the heart of the city, Wild Thyme provides the perfect retreat from Saturday shopping mayhem. A large, open-plan, brick-walled room with comfy sofas, WT has a wide range of breakfasts, lunches, smoothies and a big specials black board. I can say with confidence that they serve the best scrambled tofu ever. It’s really turmericy (?) with a good bite and loads of nooch. I’ve tried, on occasion, to wheedle the recipe out them but they’re not having any of it. WT is a great place for a long brunch. But don’t go there on a Sunday as it will unaccountably be shut.

    River Green Café was our Saturday night destination. A short cab ride brings you to this relaxed, vegan and vegetarian restaurant sat on a village green, opposite a pub. The food is locally sourced, there’s a tempting Specials board and there’s a bustling, casual atmosphere of a local, chatty crowd. There should be one of these in every town. We enjoyed our cannellini bean on toast and pine nut parcel starters but half way through our mains we discovered cheese in the vegan option pasty. The horror! It wasn’t as bad as the time I found bacon in my spinach pasta at Hotel du Vin but it was up there. The chef came out to apologise in person and the falafels he replaced the offending pasty with really were very good. But the body blow had been dealt and there’s not much you can do to recover the evening. Maybe our expectations were too high? I really hate to give a vegetarian restaurant a bad review and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from going there. I’m sure we were just unlucky and I suspect that the mis-labelling mishap won’t happen again.

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    Cannellini Beans on Toast

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    Cabbage leaf parcel with tahini sauce

    To salvage the evening we went dancing in the cheesy nightclub strip that’s the other face of Norwich. Well, some would say salvage others (Adam) might say completely ruin.

    Sunday breakfast at The Unthank Kitchen in the Golden Triangle was perfect and made me want to return to my student days of a big fry up, mug of tea and the rest of the day spent talking nonsense with my friends. It was very nicely topped off with some vegan energy bites purchased from Bia Kitchen at the outdoor market the day before. A 100% breakfast and lunch stall which we were simply too full to eat at.

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    Bia Kitchen’s protein balls

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    Veggie breakfast and papers

    I’m not sure at what point we fitted in vegan fast food chain restaurant, Loving Hut, but I’m glad we did. Have you ever ordered fish and chips at a vegan festival and had to double check after a bite that it’s not actually fish? It’s tofu too so Adam has determined that its recreation is his next culinary challenge. Watch this space.

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    I can’t believe it’s not fish

    And now I’ve run out of room waxing on about vegan Norwich. And I haven’t mentioned the delicious food at Namaste we had on our previous trip or the fact that there was a vegan festival there last weekend (7th May). Must add it to the calendar for 2017. I can’t wait to go back and get my V tattoo at Indigo by that new artist advertised in the pub. I just need to decide on the font.

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