Yesterday was a pretty magical day.
I'm lucky enough that every day is quite amazing and I am thankful for that, but yesterday was a treat.
Since moving by myself to a new city, I've had quite a lot of introvert time. Lots of time to blog, be alone, work hard and do all the things I've been craving for so long. But, it's inevitable that at some stage you do run out of TV shows to watch, life goals to focus on and you just crave a giant dosage of Other People.
And, if that can involve a dash of veganism? Well, you've just got a win-win!
Two of the ladies I work with gave me an incredible surprise the other day and said they wanted to have a "Vegan Night". The divine Sharon said Charlotte and I should go over to her house and have a lovely vegan dinner together just for the three of us. Neither of them are vegan and I don't think have any intention of going vegan, but for whatever reason - this was their wish and do you think I was sad to grant it?
I was overwhelmed with joy. These girls are pretty amazing, right?
Immediately I was excited. I get to cook for people again! I get to show how simple and delicious vegan food is! But most of all: I get to spend an evening with lovely people instead of watching "Dexter" on the couch with a giant jar of Tahini. (Although that is always a good time, let's be honest).
And then: life got in they way. I quickly realised that every day leading up to the dinner I had work and rehearsals and there were no good, solid blocks for "baking" or even shopping time. I could see my overflowing basket of goods slung casually over one arm and organic red wine tucked under the other slipping through my fingers and quickly turning into me showing up in work clothes, stinking of coffee and clutching a packet of pasta and a jar of tomato sauce. This will not be the case!
The morning of the dinner party I woke up early in time to go to Manchester's best veg-firendly supermarket before starting work. It's really lovely place and they always have some vegan treats in the counter. I figured: as long as I don't show up empty handed - that's what counts! This night is more about having a lovely social evening as apposed to cooking the most perfect meal in the world, right?
I had a giant bag to fill with supplies (that I would need to lug around all day at work!), which already held my organic olive oil from home and an avocado that was lying around in my fruit bowl. I knew I had exactly one hour to get whatever I would need for that evening before work started.
As my bus pulled into the city, I saw a fruit and vegetable stall set up on Oxford Street that I have never noticed before! How is this possible?! Fate, anybody? I bee-lined there immediately and got so excited by the perfect looking tomatoes, bunches of fresh produce and lovely looking fruits. I was inspired. I grabbed some tomatoes, basil and garlic and straight away knew: it's a bruschetta night! If the other girls have some food sorted, I can at least make a divine plate of my best bruschetta, which always goes down well. I'm a big advocate of letting the produce dictate your plans....and those tomatoes were definitely speaking to me. And there's nothing like a giant bunch of basil to inspire you. Oh that smell!
After filling my bag with those basics and some strawberries that just wouldn't stop staring at me, I crossed the street to the vegetarian shop and knew exactly what I needed: just one loaf of amazing bread? Please! And maybe some vegan treats? Oh yes they provided. Almost as soon as I walked in I saw a divine loaf of vegan spelt baguette that was just perfect and even a plate of vegan brownies. Brownies and strawberries for dessert? Yes please!
After that, work was a breeze and I couldn't wait for our dinner date. The three of us were all equally excited and closing time couldn't come quickly enough. As soon as we got back to Sharon's, the champagne was popped, strawberries were plopped inside and the cooking began. Sharon had pre-prepared an incredible rice dish that she put on to heat up and I started dicing tomatoes and ripping fresh basil leaves off with relish. Something definitely happened to me while I was chopping those tomatoes and laughing with these lovely girls - I felt like myself again. I remembered that amazing way that food can connect people and the love that comes with bringing amazing company together over a delicious meal. I also remembered how much I really love cooking and sadly, living alone I've become quite a fan of munching on very basic raw veggies and not doing anything too adventurous.
The brushetta went down a treat (win!), Sharon's rice was incredible and I had the most incredible time. An obvious highlight was them saying how amazing the food was and they didn't miss anything animal related....yay! But even more than that I was just so overwhelmed by their openness and acceptance. It's sad but true that most people aren't really open to having a 100% vegan dinner, which I totally understand. It does seem like a lot of effort for just one guest and that's always been my view. But sitting there last night, I was reminded how easy and happy this lifestyle is. And surely the night is even better because no cruelty was involved? EVeryone is brilliantly fuelled up, we can eat as much of it as we want without guilt and even have room for some sneaky brownie!
I think I've lucked out on finding some special Manchester ladies! Next mission: invite them to my place and do some vegan cooking: fine dining style! If they thought the brushcetta was good, just wait until they have mushroom wellington! Oh yeah!
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