We've got a little announcement to make..

For those of you who follow us on social media, you might have noticed that our food posts have been a bit more American themed lately. Well that's because WE'RE OPENING AN AMERICAN DINER IN GATESHEAD and we are soooooo excited to finally be able to share our news with you. Think juicy burgers, saucy hotdogs, grilled sandwiches, mac n cheese, waffles, fries, milkshakes, man vs. food style challenges.. AND all 100% VEGAN! *wipes drool*

We've been in the catering business for a few years now and one thing we've noticed is that the North East vegan scene is seriously lagging behind. Edinburgh, Brighton and London are the big players in the vegan game and we thought it was about time the North East ramped it up. So here we come!

While Newcastle could do with a few more modern vegan eateries, we've decided to stay away from the City and turn our attention to Gateshead instead. After all, Grumpy Panda Food was born and bred here. We can't give the exact location away yet, but just know that we'll be in the city centre and not necessarily where you would expect.

We don't have any more information for you right now (sorry!) but keep an eye out on our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for the latest details.

We're baaaack!

Sorry for the lack of social media posts over the last two weeks, we've just returned from an AMAZING family holiday in Florida and the jet-lag coming home was a nightmare! 

As part of a family celebration we were lucky enough to fly first class (very posh!) so obviously we had to take photos of our first class veggie food! 

We spent almost every day at Disney and Universal theme parks and honestly, as much as we love stuffing our faces with fast food and sweet treats, we were craving fresh fruit and vegetables by the second week!

Being a huge tourist destination in America we thought there'd be plenty of meat-free options for us in the parks, but apart from the odd bean burger or "health sandwich" (a chicken sandwich without the chicken...) there sadly wasn't much choice available in the quick service restaurants. (There may have been more options in the table service restaurants, but we didn't fancy those at the time).

Our favourite quick service meal was in Disney's Hollywood Studios at Fairfax Fare, Sunset Boulevard. We had the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich which was juicy, crispy and so sooo tasty! It was also the best value for money meal we had while in the parks too, around $10 each for a sandwich and fries. We highly recommend trying it out!

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Disney's Hollywood Studios

In Universal's Islands of Adventure we had the first veggie thing we could find, a fried vegetable rice burger patty with fries. I can't remember the exact name of it, but it was from The Burger Digs in the Jurassic Park area. The best thing about the burger was the lettuce, tomato and pickles from the "free" salad bar, the patty itself was bland and flavourless. 

Vegetable Rice Burger at Universal's Islands Of Adventure

Vegetable Rice Burger at Universal's Islands Of Adventure

However, we did return to Island's of Adventure later in the holiday and found a great little place called Doc Sugrue's Desert Kebab House serving vegetarian kebabs in The Lost Continent area. For around $12 dollars we had a lovely seasoned fresh vegetable kebab with a side of chips/crisps and a drink. If only we had of found this place on our first visit to IOA!

Vegetarian Kebab at Universal's Island's of Adventure

Vegetarian Kebab at Universal's Island's of Adventure

Universal Studios didn't offer much variety for us either, and what they did have was pretty much the same as the Disney areas. We ate at Beverley Hills Boulangerie on Rodeo Drive, this was our first try of the "health sandwich" and it was.. okay. It was basically a cress sandwich with cucumber, cheese and tomato, served with a side of coleslaw and a slice of melon for around $10 each. 

Health Sandwich at Universal Studios Florida

Health Sandwich at Universal Studios Florida

We timed our visit to Disney's EPCOT well as it was during their annual International Food & Wine Festival so there was plenty on offer for everyone. If you're not familiar with EPCOT, a large part of it is World Showcase, a mile long strip split into 11 areas each representing a different country from around the world - a perfect opportunity to sample international cuisines! Our first stop was in La Cantina de San Angel restaurant in Mexico where we tried the Empanadas con Queso (fried tortillas filled with cheese), a decent portion with fresh tangy Mexican slaw. 

Empanadas Con Queso at Disney's EPCOT

Empanadas Con Queso at Disney's EPCOT

We also sampled a South Korean vegan BBQ which was tiny but tasty. In Germany we tried giant salty pretzels and chose creamy vanilla ice cream over crepes in France. We ate A LOT in EPCOT. 

So, that's it! If you're a vegetarian and you're visiting Walt Disney World or Universal Studio's Florida any time soon, be prepared for lots of fries, lots of sandwiches and lots of cheese. Of course all of the sweet treats were suitable for us, but the sugary portions are so huge that you're destined for diabetes after the first bite.. 

A selection of sweet treats in Disney's Magic Kingdom

A selection of sweet treats in Disney's Magic Kingdom

Of course we did eat outside of the theme parks too, but we'll save that for another time ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Meals IN Wheels - Progress!

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram you may recognise this post a few months ago..

@Grumpy Panda Food  'Sooo.. This old lady is the beginning of something new for us!...'

@Grumpy Panda Food  'Sooo.. This old lady is the beginning of something new for us!...'

Back in May we acquired the back end of a classic Mini with every intention of quickly doing it up for use at our Summer '16 events. Well, that didn't quite go to plan and four months, lots of boring compliance paperwork, a whole sketchbook of design ideas and basic body rebuilding later and it's allllmost ready for it's first lick of paint.

Firstly, we have to mention Stu. He's the man who found this gem for us, and he's seriously the coolest man we've ever met. From his workshop on a small industrial estate in Gateshead he makes furniture out of ACTUAL AEROPLANES (well, parts of them). Wall clocks from windows, desks from doors, drinks cabinets from trolleys, tables from wings, even a sofa from a jet engine! The furniture is shipped all around the world and it's fantastic. Great job Stu-art Aviation Furniture!

So, back to the Mini. As far as we know (which isn't much to be honest) she's a classic Mini Mk3. Car enthusiasts may object but for now that's all we have to go on. She's stripped down to the shell and cut just before the hand brake slot (remember we know nothing about cars so you'll have to bare with our terminology, sorry!). Like any girl of her age she's got a few screws missing and she's a bit rough around the edges so we've certainly got out work cut out for us. 

After strengthening the bodywork we were ready to get creative and put our plans into motion. We sourced and fitted a boot lid, reworked the edging,  fitted shelves made of pallet wood, and cut out sections of the floor to make it easier to serve from.

We'll post more updates as we go, so watch this space!

 

 

 

 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

We crossed the Scottish Borders at the weekend, armed with loaded chipotle chilli nachos ready to exhibit at the Edinburgh Vegan Festival, an incredibly popular two-day event held at The Roxburghe Hotel in Charlotte Square. 

EVF formed parted of the Fringe Festival this year which brought a great atmosphere to the streets of Edinburgh and there really was something for everyone. Comedians, theatre shows, live music, street performers and amusement rides all added to the vibe of the city and it was a pleasure to be a tiny part of it. 

There was hotdogs, pies, falafel, curry, bean burgers and jackfruit wraps on offer for lunch and a huge selection of sweet treats for afters, but despite the choice we still managed to sell out before closing time! As we've always said, one of our favourite parts of travelling around food events is getting the chance to try other vegan produce. Our favourite stops this time were SGAIA's amazing vegan eggs benedict, Sharaf's tasty falafel salad wrap, Affogato's gelato and of course no vegan event would be complete without a trip to Missy's Vegan Cupcakes..

Selling out for us it was a win-win situation for us- it meant our food had went down a treat in a brand new city which was awesome, and it also freed up some time to take advantage of the mini golf which was conveniently placed right outside of the hotel!

It was our first time branching out of the North East but it certainly won't be our last. We loved every second of the Edinburgh Vegan Festival. Our fellow stallholders were lovely as always and it was great to meet the vegans and veggies of Edinburgh - what a friendly bunch of people you are! Thanks guys, we'll be back very soon! :) 

Remember to send your photos to us @GrumpyPandaFood or tag #GrumpyPandaFood and we'll be sure to repost them here! 

 

Thanks for visiting us veganlifestartsat40 :)

Thanks for visiting us veganlifestartsat40 :)

Thanks for the photo bammaaa_ !

Thanks for the photo bammaaa_ !

Thanks for posting puggle_lover_x3 !

Thanks for posting puggle_lover_x3 !

Thanks for visiting us! yasminvspython

Thanks for visiting us! yasminvspython

Spend A Penny?

When I first started this project I had no idea what I was doing, how long it would take, or what the finished product would look like. Now, I can add professional penny floor layer to my CV!

While decorating our downstairs WC I decided that our freshly painted walls (grey) no longer matched our vinyl flooring (also grey), so I spent a hard three minutes thinking about what I could do to improve the look. I'm not one to do things by the book, and if I want something I'll do my best to get it. In this case, what I wanted was unique, bespoke flooring that would wow our guests, create a talking point for our neighbours, and be cheap to create - not much to ask, eh! 

I remember seeing a photo of a floor covered in beer bottle tops a few years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. I loved how creative and unique it was, and I always wanted something similar installed when I had a house of my own. However, since I don't drink at all it would take me forever to save up all the bottle caps I'd need, and would be pretty irrelevant in my home! But I knew I wanted to do something similar, so I wracked my brain for all of sixty seconds and came up with pennies! English pennies have a lovely copper colour which would go perfectly with our new grey walls. Sorted - now to go penny hunting!

After raiding our loose change jars, asking family and friends, and a trip to the bank, I finally had enough pennies to get started. I scrubbed the floor to remove any dirt, and began individually glueing each penny to the floor. I used 3 tubes of Super Tough, Waterproof Gorilla Glue for this, but I'd think any waterproof superglue would do. (Note: you can make penny 'tiles' and lay them all in one go, but after some research I decided I didn't like this look as you can see the joins between the tiles. It is less stress on your back as you can do all of the penny glueing at a table before laying, but it just wasn't the particular look I wanted).

Tip: If you're using Gorilla glue, you need to wet the pennies before glueing as that's how the glue bonds best. I just kept the pennies I was going to use for each section in a tub of water to save wetting each individual coin. This also helped to clean any leftover dirt off them. 

I wanted the pennies to be as neat and uniformed as possible, so I glued them row by row, making sure they were all perfectly aligned before pressing them down with a heavy object (in this case, a tin of paint). Each penny slotted into the gap between two pennies on the previous row to help leave as small a gap as possible. 

Tip: It’s much easier to start in one corner and go row by row than it is to do a whole section at a time. I tried to jump ahead and work around the base of the toilet and sink first as I thought they’d be the most troubling areas. However, I quickly regretted this when I found they didn’t match up so I had to scrape them all up and start again!

It is a lot of hard work and you feel like you’ve done hours of work for little reward, but once you get into a rhythm time flies by – and the finished product is totally worth the back ache! I worked with one little bank bag of pennies at a time (100 coins) which made it easier to keep count of how many pennies I had used altogether and meant I could section of the rows to spread to work over a number of week nights and weekends.

When the final penny has been laid, it’s time to varnish! For this I used Wickes’ Ultra Durable Interior Floor Varnish. Polyurethane based varnish works best as it’s hard wearing, waterproof and easier to use than epoxy resin, and it’s also much cheaper! (Note: Wickes’ floor varnish is milky white when first applied, but don’t panic like I did, it does dry clear!) I found it best to spread the varnish with the flat edge of a Tupperware lid rather than the recommended paintbrush as there was so much space to cover. It took around 6 hours between coats, and I applied four coats in total.

I could have stopped here if I wanted to, but I didn’t. Originally I loved the idea of all the different shades of copper, but the varnish slightly darkened the pennies and it didn’t ‘pop’ like I hoped it would– not how I wanted to feel after spending so long piecing it together! To lighten the floor I scrubbed each and every penny using a mix of nail varnish remover (it really worked!), white spirit and wire brushes. This took foreverrr and if I’d have known I was going to want shiny pennies across the whole floor, I’d definitely have cleaned them all before I started, it would have saved SO much time!

And well, that’s it! The only thing I had left to do was clean and polish them. I did this using hot water, a wire dish scrubber and a steam mop. I couldn’t possibly count the total number of hours I spent on this project, but I can tell you that I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I absolutely love it, and it certainly does have the ‘wow’ factor I was hoping for!

The best part? The entire project cost under £60!


Facts;

English pennies: 3644
US pennies: 6
Euro 5 cents: 1
Total coin count: 3651

Oldest penny: 1971
Newest penny: 2016

EcoFest 2016

When we heard Metro Radio Arena was going to host the North East Vegan Festival this month we jumped at the chance to exhibit there - after all, not many small, independent catering companies get to say they've played in the same place as David Bowie!

Farplace Animal Rescue, the organisers of NEVFest, joined forces with hundreds of local businesses like ourselves to create the regions first EcoFest, a huge event that was enjoyed by thousands of like-minded visitors. There was a great variety of food, arts, crafts, charity and information stalls and live music played throughout the day. In the centre of the arena Nissan, BMW and Tesla showcased a number of electric and hybrid vehicles - a great treat for all the environmentally conscious car enthusiasts!

We took along our Black Eye Panda Pockets and the newest addition to the Grumpy Panda menu, loaded Chipotle Chilli Cheese Nachos and boy did they go down well with you lot! In fact, our nachos sold out quicker than anything we've ever made before (and yes, that includes our mushroom burgers!!).

At events like these we love to try out our fellow stallholders produce and stuff our faces with the latest veggie trends, and EcoFest you certainly didn't disappoint! I can't even begin to describe how awesome our post festival dinner from Unless Hardcore Vegan Catering was, and of course like any good vegan should, we overdosed on perfectly sweet cakey sugary goodness from our friends at Missy's Vegan Cupcakes!

Sadly we won't be exhibiting at the next North East Vegan Festival in November as we're on holiday but we look forward to returning next year, and in the meantime you can keep track of us using our calendar

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and plenty of new ones, we really have to thank you for all of your amazing feedback and support, we couldn't do this without you! 

IMG_20160710_204549.jpg
Remember to tag us in your Grumpy Panda Food photos @GrumpyPandaFood or #GrumpyPandaFood and we'll make sure to re-blog them! 
Thanks for the photo @yorkshirevgn follow his blog here.

Thanks for the photo @yorkshirevgn follow his blog here.

Thanks for the photo @ellenwatchesmovies!

Thanks for the photo @ellenwatchesmovies!

Cable Table

If I had've known I was going to write a post about this I would've took more photos along the way to show the progression. Nonetheless, it's too good of a find not to share!

So, we've been in our new house for exactly a year now and although we're still living in the middle of a building site, the builders have decided to up and leave - ugh, how convenient. Well actually for us, it is!

I spotted an old cable drum as I drove past the builders yard one day and new I had to have it. From the road it looked small-ish, a 3 or 4ft circumference maybe, perfect size for a patio table in our back garden. Fast forward to the day we eventually got permission to take it.. turns out the road is waaay further away than we thought, and the drum is HUGE. 7ft wide kind of huge, and heavy. SO HEAVY. We struggled to lift it even an inch off the ground. We could've given up but we'd gotten this far so decided to persevere and with a system of lifting and propping it up using broken pallets, we eventually did it inch-by-inch. Once it was upright we had to get it home, and the narrow paths, bumpy roads and unnecessarily high kerbs on our street were certainly not made for cable drum rolling.. 

Eventually home it was time to decide what to do with it. I started off by scrubbing it down to remove excess dirt, rope, spiders, and discarded rubbish that the builders had kindly poked through the centre holes. Next, time to sand! I bought a small electric sander and got to work, making sure to sand down all the grooves and joins on the top surface, and all around the edges - I didn't want anyone getting jabbed by old splintered wood!

To make a statement piece I wanted to add something to the large metal rounded hole in the centre and after some thought we came up with bamboo shoots as they're fast growing, hardy plants. It took a while to get them through the hole, but we got there in the end and even managed to remove some slats from the centre of the table so we could slide a plastic tub in to keep the roots contained. This tub also makes it easier to water and feed the bamboo, genius.

I finished the table off with some bright orange Ikea stools for a splash of colour, and there you go, a huge solid wood table for the price of a few stools. I will varnish it at some point to keep in safe during the winter months but for now it's fine and with enough space to sit 8-10 people, it's perfect for our summer BBQ's!

I see you shiver with antici...

..pation!

Those of you who know us personally will know we're HUGE fans of Richard "let's do a physical" O'Brien and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so when the chance came up to be front row for the stage show in Sunderland yesterday, we were absolutely thrilled!

If you're a Rocky Horror fan yourself, you've probably already heard how crazy the touring stage show can get, it's certainly no average trip to the theatre! Audience participation is key, and the Sunderland crowd certainly didn't let the cast down last night. Brilliantly bad heckles, rice throwing, water pistols and many encores of the Time Warp made for a truly unforgettable night! 

Rewind back to last week when I was panicking about our (lack of) costumes. Now, the audience are encouraged to don their best RHS attire - cue the 6ft tall burly men in nothing but corsets, suspenders and pearls walking the streets of Sunderland without a care in the world - but unfortunately I'd left it too late to order appropriate corsets so I had to get creative.. did someone say tighty whitey's and fishnets? Perfect!

Being at the centre of the front row was amazing. The cast were absolutely brilliant and played off the badly timed heckles with ease, I imagine it must get tiring for them but they did a fantastic job and gave back as good as they got!

I was a bit dubious about Diana Vickers playing the role of Janet Weiss (originally Susan Sarandon), but she was great and really got into the character. For me, Dominic Anderson *drool!* as Rocky Horror was even better than the original (Peter Hinwood) and although no one can possibly compare to the fabulous Tim Curry, Liam Tamne took on the role of Frank N Furter perfectly - he's probably my second favourite stage show Frank, just behind David Bedella. Richard Meek was our Brad, Kristian Lavercombe our Riff Raff and Steve Punt our narrator - a very talented cast!

I'm still recovering from last night, but I'm already on the lookout for tickets to the next show! Find yours here http://rockyhorror.co.uk/tour

Don't dream it, be it!

Beets Your Meat!

Our customers are always curious about our beetballs and we’re constantly asked how we make them. A lot of people just think they’re balls of beetroot in a tomato sauce so they’re very pleasantly surprised once they bite into them! The balls themselves are actually a blend of roasted beetroot, caramelised onions, pearl barley and oats, and although we can’t give our exact recipe away (sorry!), we thought we’d give you some tips on how to make them!

Cut your beets into small chunks and season well before roasting.

Cut your beets into small chunks and season well before roasting.

Once you’ve roasted the beetroot you need to purée it. This is the base of the mixture and from here you can add any extra ingredients such as onions, carrots or dried herbs. Try experimenting with different vegetables to make some tasty combinations.

Think of your favourite flavourings and what type of ‘meat’ you’d like to create. We serve our balls in a rich marinara sauce so we opt for more Italian seasonings such as oregano and basil, but Lincolnshire or Cumberland seasonings also work perfectly.

To stiffen the mixture we use oats but you could substitute these for breadcrumbs, polenta or chickpeas depending on your personal preference.

Once you’ve perfected your mix it’s time to roll your balls. We find they work best when rolled to the size of a ping-pong ball, but again this is all down to personal preference.

We pan fry our balls before marinating them in sauce and placing them in a bain-marie for service, but they’re equally delicious when oven baked.

Newcastle Vegan Festival

We were excited to exhibit at Newcastle Vegan Festival yesterday which was held in the beautiful Assembly Rooms. Like NevFest back in May we kept our menu to mushroom burgers and beetballs which went down a storm once again!

We love meeting fellow traders and finding out about all their vegan goodies-  Tyne Chease and Freet were our particular favourites this time around, as well as Missy’s Vegan Cupcakes whose sweet treats are to die for! There’s so many lovely people in the vegan trading world that we’re constantly learning and meeting new friends.

Burgers and 'Balls!

We were lucky enough to exhibit at NevFest (North East Vegan Festival) at the Stadium of Light a couple of weeks ago, and it was fantastic! Such a great atmosphere. We had one of the biggest queues in the whole stadium and sold out of everything within a few hours, despite doubling up on our portions from last year!

Our ‘chefs secret’ mushroom burgers made a verrry popular return this year, many customers remembered us from last year, and many more came back for seconds! From all of the amazing feedback we received, we’ve decided to make our burgers a permanent Grumpy Panda food, and will be coming with us wherever we go!

We also offered ‘beet’ball marinara subs, and the response to these was incredible! Think of a fully loaded meatball marinara sub roll – the kind you get from the popular green, yellow and white sandwich shop – make that entirely vegan, and add crunchy onions on top.. delicious! The ‘beet’balls themselves are a blend of beetroot, caramelised onions, pearl barley and our secret spices, and they’re marinated in a rich Italian-style tomato sauce. Whack that in a sub roll, top with crunchy onions and voilà!

We’re so lucky to be able to do what we love, and have people love what we do. NevFest is an amazing event in support of an equally amazing cause (check out Farplace Animal Rescue charity – the guys behind it all. They operate a no kill animal sanctuary in the North East and run almost entirely on donations!) We can’t wait to join you again for NevFest 4 in November!

We were so busy during the festival that we never got a chance to take any photos of our burgers and ‘balls.. So here’s three of our team enjoying the attention ;)

Birthday Sausage!

We celebrated my birthday last night at The Sausage Emporium and it was certainly a birthday meal to remember!  

I met the owners, John and Briony, a year or so ago through my previous job, and they're so lovingly eccentric that when they told me they were opening a restaurant dedicated to sausages, I knew I had to try it out ASAP!  

We have visited a few times now and it just keeps getting better and better! The food is absolutely delicious, there's every flavour of sausage you could possibly imagine - black pudding, Wylam ale, Thai, onion bhaji, chilli, cider, giant loaded hotdogs, too many to name! Of course, we both chose the beetroot-based veggie 'dog loaded with fried onions, cheese, and sweet potato wedges, absolutely delicious!  

I booked our table online last week and mentioned it was my birthday, for no other reason than I was booking for a Friday night and thought if it was fully booked they might be able to squeeze us in anyway since it was a special occasion. I certainly wasn't expecting any special treatment!

photo credit; The Sausage Emporium

photo credit; The Sausage Emporium

When we arrived we were greeted by the lovely Briony and the Emporium's very cute resident sausage dog Hannah who is the inspiration behind the whole place. The Emporium itself is awesome, it's built into a railway arch so the huge ceiling is curved, there's astro turf on the walls, custom artwork showing local landmarks, colourful tables and chairs, and there's even custom made Hannah-covered wallpaper in the toilets!

We went for a shared cheese soufflé type starter (which was so irresistible that I didn't even get a chance to take a photo of it before it was gone..!). This was no ordinary serving of soufflé though, this soufflé had birthday candles and came with a choir of staff singing Happy Birthday to me! 

Our veggie 'dog main course was next, again this was served with candles, and this time I knew it was on it's way as I heard another chorus of Happy Birthday as the staff carried it upstairs to our table! 

After our main, John and Briony offered us a glass of prosecco each, or a special shared dessert as a birthday gift which was a really lovely gesture! Since the food is always so yummy, I jumped at the chance of dessert even though I was almost at bursting point! My waistline instantly regretted this choice, but our taste-buds thanked us, IT WAS AMAZING. Rather than just one dessert, we were served a custom dessert platter. There was apple and cinder toffee rice pudding, lemon custard and meringue, and honeycomb crusted cake wedge. All homemade, all incredible! And guess what else it what served with..... birthday candles and singing!

I can honestly say I've never blown out as many candles in one sitting as I did last night! Such a great effort by all the staff, and certainly a birthday to remember! Thanks guys, we'll be back very soon!!