Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Adventures in Newcastle: Tea Sutra and other stories


This post has been waiting over a month, and at the time of posting, I've been on Easter/Spring break for a week and a half, but I'm actually doing lots of coursework, so forgive how long this post has taken.  I promise there'll be another new post on Friday (as in in two days time).  I suppose it's good that I have left this post until now though because I have slightly more time for writing the more descriptive posts like this one (even though I did plenty of that in the days leading up to Back to the 80s, the review for which you can read here and see photos of here).  Over the Valentines weekend, I headed up to Newcastle for one day for my best friend Haaris' 21st birthday celebrations.  I didn't manage to visit that many places, so I might have to update this post after any future Newcastle visits that I have.

Dinner



We had our dinner at Pizza Express, where I had the Pianta pizza, which is the only fully vegan-friendly pizza on their menu (although if you take your own vegan cheese, they can use it to adjust any of the vegetarian pizzas as their pizza bases are ALL dairy and egg-free) and is topped with chestnut mushrooms, pine kernels, artichokes, chilli flakes, spinach and copious amounts of rocket salad.  The chilli flakes are unfortunately a huge weakness of mine, which results in me needing tissues to wipe my nose after every couple of mouthfuls of pizza as I am terrible at dealing with hot/spicy foods.  We were also given complimentary chocolate love hearts for Valentine's Day!


Fun



A few more of Haaris' friends then joined us (only one of them was there for dinner) for a game at Lost and Escape!  We split into two teams (one with four of us, and the other with five) to take on a game each - my team entered the Lost game while the other team went into the Escape dungeon.  In Lost, we started in a room where we had to solve a series of puzzles to open cupboards and padlocks on boxes, before entering the next room to climb through a laser maze (where if you touch the laser beam with any part of your body, an alarm goes off and you have to start from the beginning of the laser maze again), before finishing in a third room with more puzzles that eventually led to the treasure chest (pictured above).  We had an hour to complete the whole game, and we had entered the final room with approximately 35 minutes to spare, but we were then confused by some of the clues in the final room and didn't realise that one of the puzzle boxes had a second secret opening that contained an important clue.  We eventually only finished the game with about 5 minutes to spare.  We were meant to see some comedy at The Stand after this, but tickets had sold out and I was actually quite tired anyway, so we were back at Haaris' student house by 9:15pm and I spent the next 3 hours mostly asleep.


Lunch at Tea Sutra

While looking through my cousin's girlfriend's Instagram pictures several months ago, my eyes were drawn to a photograph of a teapot, a timer, a teacup and sieve, two slices of cake, and an elephant-shaped teapot (let's face it, the elephant drew me in).  Amongst the tags was #vegan, so my interest immediately peaked and I looked up Tea Sutra (another of the tags) to find it was in Newcastle.  I found that one of Haaris' friends, Saffron, has also visited Tea Sutra, so I messaged them in advance to ask for their recommendations of what to eat.  Saffron's recommendations were Lapsang Souchong or Blossoming tea, the Mediterranean veg wrap, and the lemon and earl grey cake.



The teapot, sieve and timer
For tea, I had Lapsang Souchong as per one of Saffron's recommendations.  It came in a teapot with a cup, sieve, and a 5 minute timer.  This means that I had to wait for 5 minutes after adding the hot water to the teapot for the tea to brew before I could pour it into my cup to drink.  It was quite hot, but also very nice and soothing and I got even more tea because Haaris had ordered the same but then found that he didn't like it and offered it to me.


Warm Lapsang Souchong tea


For my main course, I went against Saffron's recommendation of the Mediterranean veg wrap (mainly because I was overwhelmed by choices) and instead opted for the falafel and mango chutney wrap with salad.  I'm not sure if I'd ever eaten falafel before, but it had a nice, soft texture which went well with the sweet mango chutney.


Falafel and Mango Chutney wrap with salad and crisps

For my dessert, I really couldn't decide what to eat out of the two choices available, so I figured that I should really make the most of being there as I probably won't be eating at Tea Sutra again for a while (because I'll be taken to other places if/when I'm next staying in Newcastle, including one of the cat caf├ęs), and ate a slice of both cakes.  The first, the Earl Grey and Lemon cake, was my favourite and also recommended by Saffron, as it had sultanas sprinkled on the top as well as a nice lemon taste in the icing.  The second was a banana and chocolate cake which Haaris also had a slice of, and had little chocolate chips and dots of chocolate frosting.

Earl Grey and Lemon cake

Banana and Chocolate cake


Falafel and Mango Chutney Wrap

This recipe is supposed to be inspired by the falafel and mango chutney wrap that I ate at Tea Sutra, and involves this falafel recipe from about.com.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

One 16oz can of chickpeas.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons flour
pepper
salt
oil for frying
3 tortilla wraps
mango chutney

Instructions

  1. Drain chickpeas, place in pan with fresh water and bring to a boil.
  2. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then simmer on a low setting for about an hour.
  3. Drain and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl.  Add flour.
  5. Mash the chickpeas, making sure to mix the ingredients together, or combine the ingredients with a food processor to form a thick paste.
  6. Roll the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  7. Fry in 2 inches of oil at 350 degrees until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Leave to cool slightly.
  8. Place 2 teaspoons of mango chutney into the centre of each tortilla wrap and spread around the surface of the wrap.
  9. Place falafel balls along the centre of the wrap and roll to serve.
  10. Serve with salad.




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