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Brussel sprouts for breakfast, and a taste of Wagamama's vegan katsu

I go to one of the most exam-heavy universities for medicine in the country, apparently. I'm so used to sitting exams, the terror that they used to inspire is on the wane. Now, when I put exam day in my diary, all I'm thinking about is the day after, when I can start trying to get myself back to normal and remember what I was doing before I spent every waking hour trying to revise.

In this case, after Exam Thursday, the first thing on my mind was making myself an extremely over-the-top breakfast. I'd already set my heart on making this recipe for polenta with sausage and brussels sprouts. It's not the typical breakfast I make, but it sounded so tasty, and fairly minimal effort, I couldn't resist.

And it was absolutely as good as it looked. Nothing on this plate resembled breakfast to me, but I ate every last little bit. 

I've made no secret of my deep and abiding love of brussels sprouts, but it took Cadry's Kitchen to convince me that they're just as good at breakfast as at any other time of day. It also reminded me how rarely I cook polenta, and what a Grade A mistake that is. I reckon polenta can be a bit bland at the best of times, but when you use Linda McCartney's red pepper and chorizo sausages, that's no biggie. Have you tried them yet? If you haven't, I heartily recommend getting your hands on some next time you see them - they're absolutely gorgeous.

Post-exam, we decided to head down to Brighton to celebrate being free from study horror. Mr Flicking the Vs had already called Purezza for lunch, and I was powerless to refuse - particularly as they have a 10 percent discount for students. The way I see it, that's an invite to eat 10 percent more food, right?

I've had a long and happy relationship with Purezza's lasagne for a while, so I saw no reason to change my ordering strategy. If you're thinking 'how boring is that? Any idiot can make a decent lasagne', I wouldn't disagree. I would point out though that any idiot can make a decent lasagne, but it takes a genius to make a really good one. Purezza's lasagne-maker is that genius.

Much as Purezza's dessert list appealed, I'd already spent too much money on cocktails (note: the Purezza student discount only applies to food, not booze!) and was highly full, I had to take a pass, and we went for a long walk along the seafront instead. 

But I'd be quite, quite wrong to let you think I went home without any sweet treats. Our long walk around Brighton happened to stop by Hisbe, a little coop that sells all sorts of interesting things. It has its own little cake counter, and that's where I felt compelled to get my wallet out.  I came home with a raspberry donut and a tiffin.

I wasn't wild about the donut (it was a bit underdone in the middle), but the tiffin was pretty much the best version I've had in a while. Yeah, you might be thinking, any idiot can make a tiffin... well, you get where I'm going with that. Happily, there were ginger nuts in there, rather than your standard issue digestives. That made the whole thing a cut above the usual one-note chocolate overdose that tiffin can be, and into a more Christmas-spiced warming delight.

Post-exam celebrations weren't complete once we got back to London though. We decided to haul ourselves out to Wagamama's noodle lab,  the Soho branch of the noodle chain where they test out new dishes before releasing them nationwide.

Rumour had it that the noodle lab has quite a few vegan options you can't find elsewhere, and we were pretty sure we needed to go check them out.

Pumpkin onigiri were one of the vegan starters that are only found in the noodle lab (so far!) - three little balls of pumpkin and rice, breadcrumbed and deep fried, and served with a sharp dipping sauce. The sauce didn't seem like a natural partner for the onigiri, but they were still nice enough. I mean, most things deep fried are pretty tasty, right?

Then... there was the vegatsu. You've probably seen it on Twitter, Instagram, or somewhere else over the intertubez. Much to the excitement of vegans everywhere, Wagamama is trialling a vegan katsu, made with seitan. Like the meat and veggie versions, it's slabs of breadcrumbed stuff (wheat meat here) with curry sauce, rice, and side salad.

So how was it? I wanted to love it. I really wanted it. Vegan katsu, how could I not? Sadly, it didn't rock my world - it was the proverbial curate's egg (what's the vegan equivalent of a curate's egg?!)

The chewy seitan, which got chewier as it cooled - as seitan so often does - together with the rice was a really heavy meal. The side salad was too small to make a dent in the feeling of wading through stodge. I loved the curry sauce though - I'd drink that in pints. I can't help feeling that if you swapped out the seitan for breadcrumbed veggies or tofu (or anything else of your choosing that's a bit lighter), the vegatsu would be transformed, and vegans would happily queue around the block for a piece of that.

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  1. You must be so happy your exams are done. I guess one of the goods things about having so many exams is you get to be happy more often than most students! :D I love the celebratory breakfast — I've made myself brussels sprouts for breakfast, but neglected to accompany them as beautifully as you did. Next time polenta and tofu. And I especially love your 10% discount logic. How have I never thought of, and applied this, when receiving a discount? Next time. Next time.

  2. I would (and have) totally eaten Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast! Looks great! As does the rest of the eats in this post!!!!

  3. Hmm interesting to read your review of the katsu, I still haven't tried it yet. I came up with a pretty nice katsu sauce recipe at home, but I use sweet potato. I am a fan of stodge so we'll have to see what happens with Jenny vs. Seitan Katsu :D

  4. After a taxing day of exam taking, you deserve a delicious vegan meal. :-) Breakfast and genius level lasagne looks awesome!

  5. Your breakfast looks like the best of these dishes, and the most beautifully presented, so if you get sick of exams you could open your own vegan cafe :-) I'm sorry Wagamama's disappointed - I have heard mixed things about the new vegan options - but it looks like you got some good eats in around that.

  6. I'm sad to hear that the Wagamama's Vegan Katsu Curry was a disappointment. I appreciate that they are trying, though! I remember enjoying it when I was in London in 2014, and ate something there. Your breakfast creation, however, looks and sounds divine!! I hope you are all finished with your semester!

  7. I have yet to visit Wagamama, but I have not heard good things about the local one so have given it a miss. I have had sprouts hash for breakfast a long time back (on the blog) and enjoyed it.
    I will have to check out Linda McCartney's red pepper and chorizo sausages, to be honest I am not always a fan of her products, but I trust you if you say its good.

  8. So much good food! I love the occasional non-breakfasty-breakfast, and I take every opportunity to eat sprouts when they're in season, so that's a definite winner in my eyes.
    I'd love to try Purezza, and the famous Wagamama katsu is on my wishlist. It's a shame it let you down though.

  9. Sprouts for breakfast sounds unusual but I would definitely have that brekky bowl. Good on you for finishing your exam - sounds like you deserved the breakfast and the lasagna and a good katsu - though I take issue with there being anything wrong with one note chocolate tiffin as I am all for one note chocolate yumminess! And the noodle lab sounds fun - the curry sauce reminds me of going to wagamama about 20 years ago with colleagues in London and one of them commenting that the curry sauce was just like chip shop curry sauce which I thought an odd british comment.


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