Review: Fortuity Food Pop-Up Restaurant

Some months ago, a friend shared with me a link to an event that I couldn’t have dreamed of happening in my area until fairly recently. Fortuity Foods, a pop-up restaurant at The Kings Arms in Wheatley, was bringing Oxford vegans a fully plant-based, three course menu. I booked a table as soon as the date was announced, and after much poring over the menu and Googling of the fancy foodie words it contained, I met with a friend at the pub this weekend for our first fine dining experience. Please feel free to click on the photos to see them at full size!

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img_6319We were presented with a platter of bread from Modern Baker while we waited for our first course, served with a homemade vegan butter which was fantastic – I’d love to steal the recipe for this. For starters, Valentina went for the seitan medallions, and I chose the spinach tortellini. When they arrived, both meals looked very professional, neat, and pretty on the plate. Valentina’s seitan came on a bed of sweetcorn and a chilli jam, which I tried a bite of and it tasted wonderful, with a nice balance of heat and sweetness. We both felt this salsa was actually the star of the dish, as the seitan could have done with a little bitimg_6330 more seasoning. My tortellini filled with mushroom however was incredibly flavoursome, and came served with a tomato consomme. I don’t really understand how a consomme is made but from what I can tell from watching Masterchef, this one was pretty good; it was quite clear and packed with flavour too. The ‘spring vegetables’ were in fact some carrot and celery chopped into the tiniest of pieces, which added some texture and freshness to the dish. This course was a really good start to the meal, I only wished there was more of it!

img_6332Our main course arrived fairly promptly, though sadly we had to wait a good few minutes until we could tuck in because our cutlery had been taken away after the first course and not replaced. The waiter was very apologetic when he realised though, and we both appreciated this was their first time running a (sold out) pop-up restaurant so it would’ve been hard to keep on top of absolutely everything. My main course was the chickpea ballotine served on a bed of crushed peas and a cauliflower mousse. It also came with a small smudge of black sauce which I have to admit I still have no idea what it was. The taste of the whole dish overall though was delicious. The vegetables were seasoned beautifully, the refreshing flavours of which were really complemented by the ballotine. img_6334Again, the dish was pretty small and I could have happily eaten two portions of this without it scraping the sides. With it being fine dining though, I had expected that to be the case. Valentina’s dish was a bit more substantial because of the dauphinoise, which tasted nice, and the layers looked amazing, though sadly there was one layer of potato which was a bit thicker than the others and therefore slightly underdone. The green vegetables accompanying the dish tasted really good and probably stole the show on this plate.

 

img_6338We deliberated slightly over whether to get a third course or not, both of us being on budgets, but I’m definitely glad I persuaded myself. My chocolate torte more than made up for any hunger I was still feeling after the small savoury courses – I actually couldn’t finish it all because it was so rich and decadent. So. Much. Chocolate! There was a layer of chocolate and nut brittle inside, as well as the thick dark chocolate ganache, and an avocado and pistachio mousse. Unfortunately I didn’t really taste much pistachio in there, perhaps because the chocolate was so intense, though I could taste the avocado, and I can’t quite make my mind up on how I feel about that in a dessert. I peered over at the cheese board on someone else’s table and that looked fantastic, there was a £3 supplement for this, but having seen it, perhaps next time I’d be tempted to try it. img_6340Valentina was a little less impressed with her dessert which was a cherry and cashew mille-feuille. It looked very attractive on the plate, but the layers of what would usually be puff pastry looked overdone so they were a bit more like a biscuit and difficult to cut into with just a spoon. I didn’t take up Valentina’s offer to try a taste because I was simply too full from my own dessert, but she mentioned the cashew cream was a bit bland, though the cherry compote was tasty. I think the dish had a lot of potential and I was really torn between which dessert to order as they’d both sounded fantastic on the menu, so probably with a bit more refinement this would have been amazing.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend that local vegans attend a Fortuity Foods pop-up, if and when they hold their next event. It’s a chance to try vegan fine dining at a very reasonable price, and certainly something different from anything I’ve experienced before. We could tell that this was their first event as there were bits here and there that could have been improved, but the love and care that was taken over creating the menu and preparing the food was unmistakable. I had a really interesting and enjoyable evening, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on their next menu!

Event: Oxford Vegan Festival

A beautifully sunny 25th of March saw Oxford’s first ever vegan festival, organised by Farplace Animal Rescue and held at the Kassam Stadium Conference Centre. I had no idea what to expect in terms of size and popularity of this event, but when we arrived to a reasonable sized queue at the building entrance, one question entered my mind – where have all you Oxford vegans been hiding?!
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I love vegan festivals because they feel like a safe haven where you don’t have to worry about triple checking an ingredients list, or feeling awkward about asking what’s in something. I came along with three non-vegan friends and I think everyone ended up really enjoying themselves, which was great! We spent longer at the festival than I expected us to, definitely getting our money’s worth of free samples and indulging in plenty of goodies. We did a lap of the stalls before deciding what to get for lunch (it took me forever, far more choice than I’m used to!)

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After deliberating over pizzas, burgers, flatbreads, fish and chips, and mac ‘n’ cheese, I finally landed on a seitan pie and mash from Young Vegans, served up with crispy onions and a rocket salad. This was my first time trying seitan and I absolutely loved this meal. It was meaty, filling comfort food at its best, and super reasonable at only £6. They’re regulars at Tottenham Green Market, and I might pay them another visit if I’m ever in the area! I also picked up a slice of battenberg (very sorry I don’t remember the name of the vendor who was selling this but I would love to be reminded so please do comment if you know!), and a mint chocolate brownie from Eat Dark Matters, as well as a curry pie from Mr Nice Pies to heat up for my boyfriend’s dinner when he got home from his day working; I’m nice like that ;). All in all it was a delicious day of over-eating and spending time in good company, which is pretty much a perfect Saturday in my book!

It was nice to see some familiar faces that I’ve come across at other festivals, but especially great to find out about local vegan businesses that I’d not yet discovered and to have a chat with the people working hard to try and make the thing they care about a success. I felt a bit sorry for the vendors who were in the downstairs foyer because business definitely seemed to be slower for them, most of the stalls and the seating area were upstairs which meant that once people had gone up there they didn’t really go back down until they were on their way out. However, we did our bit by purchasing an amazing banana soda bread loaf from Global Fusion Vegan Creole Bakery which went down a treat for breakfast this morning.

Farplace organise vegan festivals all around the country and I’d thoroughly recommend checking one out if you can, it’s such a fun day out and a great advocate for veganism, showcasing all the best things about being vegan in a really positive, inclusive way. Here’s to Oxford Vegan Festival 2018!

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