Vegan cheese is having a bit of a moment, it feels like - I love seeing new vegan cheese brands every time I pop into the local health food shop or veg*n store, and seeing Gary on supermarket shelves. (Mr Flicking the Vs has developed a strange and unshakeable taste for Sainsbury's vegan cheddar, despite its unpleasantly pungent smell, a bit like the sort of odour unwashed socks might have in hell. Still, he seems to like it. Chacun à son fromage, I guess).
Being somewhat partial to nut based cheeses in particular, I decided my birthday was a fine time to invest in a load of dinky Tyne Cheases - ten little pucks of cashew cheese, each with a different flavour. Heaven.
Another fine breakfast food ideally suited to warm embrance of vegan cheese is croissants. Yep, the day Jus-Rol decided to make their bake-at-home croissants vegan was a good day for plant-based eaters everywhere.
I'm very fond of experimenting with Jus Rol croissants (love you, Jus Rol, don't ever change your vegan recipe), and can confirm that Speculoos and Marmite both make great fillings if you're of a mind to add something extra to your dough. But if you're really looking to make some solid-gold, extra primo good croissants, then may I suggest reaching for a bit of smoked vegan cheese and a few sticks of asparagus, chopped into croissant-sized lengths.
There's something about the sharp cheese and the yielding grassy asparagus go together than makes this really simple breakfast into something really special.
I'm having a bit of thing for charcoal crackers at the moment. I think it might just be the colour - if you put them on a white plate, they make everything look like one of those beautiful Dutch still life painting from the 17th century. Maybe all the cheese is going to my head with rhapsodies like that - can you still have fevered cheese dreams with nut cheese?!
And from cheese to chocolate - and the best kind of chocolate at that, chocolate when it's in a cake.
Look at the size of this brownie I picked up in Whole Foods - it's the size of a house brick. I think it cost about £3, which isn't outrageous, given you can get two good sized brownies out of it. It was made by Elizabeth D Bakes, which is not a brand I wasn't familiar with before.
I couldn't decide if I loved it or otherwise - it was lovely, dense and fudgy, as a brownie should be, but I think it might have lent a bit too heavily on flax as a binder as there were little pip-type bits in every bite.
From unfamilar chocolate cake to that most familiar of vegan cake sellers (well, familiar to me): Lola's Cupcakes. I love that in central London I'm never too far away from a Lola's, and that means I'm never too far away from a range of vegan cupcakes and brownies too. (It does make me laugh though when you order a vegan cupcake and the staff feel duty-bound to say 'it's vegan, is that OK?' in the same way that they might say 'but, it's boobytrapped, is that OK?')
Recently, Lola's levelled up with the addition of a chocolate, cherry, and pistachio cupcake to their range, which was great and generally raved about by vegan and non-vegan friends alike. Now, they've done a great thing by making vegan versions of their tiny cupcakes.
I found tiny versions of the chocolate and the pistachio vegan cupcakes at the Liverpool Street Lola's and treated myself to both. They're cupcake perfection that you can finish off in two tiny bites. Useful for making yourself feel like Gulliver in Lilliput, or just when you want something sweet but a whole cupcake feels like too much commitment.