New Year’s Day – Hopping John Fritters and Greens

It’s not a UK tradition, but in parts of America (and maybe other places too?), black eyed beans and greens are eaten on New Year’s Day to bring luck for the year ahead. I decided to use the tradition myself and I used a recipe from the Cafe Flora book to do it. I have made these fritters before but not on New Year’s Day and not with the accompaniments – smoked greens, cayenne aoli and corn salsa. The greens contained smoked mushrooms which took them to a different level, and the corn salsa and aoli lifted the flavours.
I’m not sure this meal will actually bring much luck but it was a tasty start to the new year!


We were staying with friends in Seattle so we spent a lot of meal times just hanging out in their beautiful garden grilling. We picked up lots of prepackaged products liked Tofurkey sausages and gardein that we don’t normally get to try, and had them with an amazing array of grilled vegeatables. The sun was shining so it was nice to slow down.

We did get to eat out there though. We arrived on Matthew’s birthday so he got to choose the venue. He chose Cafe Flora. I really like their cookbook but when we ate their a few years ago I was a bit disappointed by the vegan options. Matthew enjoyed his birthday and was very satisfied with his food, but once again I found that though there were enough vegan options, the flavours disappointed a bit.

I’ve had this coconut tofu with dipping sauce on my “to make” list for ages. You wrap the tofu in lettuce with herbs before dipping into the sauce. The textures were great but the tofu lacked seasoning and needed some oomph.

This was stuffed squash blossoms with pesto on beans, squash and tomato. It felt just right for season and I was looking forward to some lovely local produce but the pesto was overpowering and the vegetables had far too much agave in for my non sweet tooth. Cafe Flora is a lovely restaurant with a creative menu but if you’re vegan I’d recommending getting the book from the library and making some of the dishes yourself instead. You could even buy it for the price of a couple of main courses (It’s not a vegan book but the vegan dishes are clearly marked and others are veganisable).

We also managed to squeeze in lunch at Plum Bistro. This was welcome to cheer us up after our disappointment after racing excitedly to the moved Elliott Bay bookshop only to find it nowhere near as enticing as the previous location. I’ve read criticisms of Plum being overpriced and our bill was quite high for just a couple of sandwiches, but it was an inspiring menu and I’d love to back, especially to try their brunch.

I had tofustrami on rye, which was delicious despite not tasting anything like pastrami. Rereading that, I’ve never eaten pastrami, but I know how I expect it to taste. It was a good sandwhich though, and went great with my gin and dill cocktail. Matthew had a tempeh chipotle sandwich, which was equally good.

Other vegan finds on our trip included Mighty O cinnamon doughnuts in the basement cafe where Elliott Bay used to be (we were pining it and revisited in honour of the 4 hours we spent there last trip!).

OK, this vegan hotdog at Safeco (home to the Seattle Mariners) may look a bit dull, but imagine being able to buy vegan food at a sports stadium in this country?

Much more inspiring was this vegan hot dog with a huge condiment bar that we found on a day trip to Leavenworth, the German styled town. You could help yourself to as much sauerkraut, mustard and relishes as you wanted. I could almost have managed without the sausage, which I think was Field Roast.

There were lots of Seattle institutions that we still haven’t got to, like the Georgetown Liquor Company and Araya, but we still managed to eat very well and Seattle’s definitely a vegan friendly city. Try and ignore the misplaced apostrophe on the next picture, from Pike Place market, and focus instead on the amazing mushrooms!