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Almost Vegan Boyfriend in Boston & London

November 23, 2010

Hi all! Since Matt’s first post was such a hit, I asked him to do another. This one is about his recent business trips to Boston and London. Enjoy, and be sure to leave him flattering comments—he loves ‘em. 😉

Where in the world is Almost Hegan?

By Matt Crawley

I only have a few minutes to write this before they catch on to what I’m doing. But the truth must be known! I’ve recently returned from several missions and seen things you might have a hard time believing. Of course, I can’t tell you what my main objective was. It’s classified: Top Secret. But I can tell you I was one of only two agents to see what I’m about to show you. I’m afraid my contacts from the States, Europe, the Middle East, and even Africa didn’t make it out. So many good men and women didn’t witness the following events. That’s why it’s important to get the message out. People must know!

Located in Beverly, about 20 miles northeast of downtown Boston

This garden of delights conceals itself with a café-like exterior. Who do they think they’re fooling? We now KNOW there is a GARDEN of raw deliciousness in there!

I was quick to acquire what locals know as “The Sampler”, which was designed to confuse the senses with hummus, falafel, sunseed croquettes, and even a portobello “burger.”

Each unique flavor proved to be worthy of its own menu item. My personal favorite was what I believe to be the falafel.

The Garden was almost successful in keeping hidden its other myriad delights. However, at the last moment, I lured them with money into giving me a “Yoda’s Jedi Smoothie.” You can imagine what an exciting find this was! With berries, bananas, and spirulina, it imbued me with the power of… of… OF… RAW FORCE! I’m pretty sure cars moved out of the way from my force of will on the drive back to the airport. Unfortunately, it can’t be confirmed. Next time Rawbert… next time.

5 minute walk from Piccadilly Circus Tube Station

At first glance, this unassuming place looks like a simple coffee bar. My finely tuned senses knew otherwise.

“How?” you might ask. Because they had steaming (and some non-steaming) cauldrons of food right next to the cash register. Surprisingly, they welcomed me and my trusty benefactor, Ron, into their establishment and told us exactly how to obtain said sustenance. Not quite a buffet, they grab a plate and you point to what you want on it. At two pounds-sterling per portion of goodness, they load up your dish until your curiosity can consume no more. Then, they expect you to go eat with the other mortals chowing down nearby. We sat with a candid view of SoHo out the front windows and savored our choices. I had two warmed up portions: a mushroom, celery, and carrot dish, not unlike stroganoff, alongside a scrumptious sweet and sour potato affair. Their raw bar had at last half a dozen items as well though I only tried the broccoli with sprouts. Had we gills, we would have been stuffed to them.

We did, however, duck into this gelato and pastry shop (Gelupo) for a quick, under-the-radar dessert.

5 minute walk from Old Street or Shoreditch Tube Stations

It’s like they’re not even trying to hide it! This restaurant boldly places signs out espousing their diet-bending cuisine. The whole place is done up with modern touches. One might even say it’s “hip.” Even the botanical kitchen is eye-catching.

However, Ron and I marveled most at the vegan and raw fare. With several cooked dishes and several raw, it was certainly hard to decide. To begin, we shared raw sushi rolls…

…and raw butternut squash ravioli. Both were outstanding, but the ravioli was the clear winner.

As a main course, I chose the Mushroom Risotto, a cooked dish including pearl barley, truffle cream, tarragon, and caperberry. Did your mouth salivate as you read that as mine did when I wrote it? It was the perfect cure for a cold London night.

However, my contrary nature forced me to try a frozen dessert. Have you had a MoonPie? Well, this was Saf’s version. Two layers of the most uniquely flavored “ice cream” I’ve ever had packed into a silky chocolate ganache. Pair that with some ginger-flavored fruit and you have yourself a dessert that I will never forget. Ron, being a standard vegetarian, raved about the vegan and raw dishes at this fine dining establishment. To the chefs and staff at Saf, we say a hearty “Cheers!”

Before I made my getaway from England, the London airport provided me this smoothie. Suspicious as I was of the giraffe within the glass, I drank quickly and disposed of him immediately afterward.

I can’t stress enough, share this information! These are just a few of the places that the meat-stapo doesn’t want you to visit. I mustn’t be caught before my work is complete. Until next time, eat well and be healthy. This is Almost Hegan signing off.

60 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 11:36 am

    hahaha, i will have to try these estabishments, if I’m ever in Boston or London! Don’t you love how becoming vegan, or Hegan, continually has us taking pictures of our food 🙂
    Great post. Now if I could just get my husband to at least TRY some of the delicacies I prepare ::sigh::

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:00 pm

      Almost Vegan usually takes all of my pics for me. But this time I was doing covert ops. As for the husband, I suggest taking something he already likes and making the vegan equivalent. Then tell him all of the health statistics behind why your dish is far healthier than the one he usually eats. Best of luck!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:10 pm

      Haha, funny you should mention the picture-taking; Matt gets annoyed by that sometimes 😉 which makes it even cuter that he did it himself on his trip!

  2. Tracy permalink
    November 23, 2010 12:21 pm

    That looked more like a vacation than a business trip 🙂 I’m jealous!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:02 pm

      I can tell you that the trip from my base of operations in Bracknell to the restaurants in London was a 1.5 hours each way. No need to be too jealous. But perhaps a little jealous wouldn’t hurt. 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:12 pm

      Well, he did only write about the fun, non-work parts of the trip here. But if you wanna be real jealous, get this – his work paid for ALL of these meals! No fair! 🙂

  3. Melissa permalink
    November 23, 2010 12:40 pm

    More more PLEASE MORE!!!!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:03 pm

      I’ll write when I can. Viva el Hegan Underground!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:17 pm

      I hope to convince him to write another guest post sometime in the future 🙂

  4. November 23, 2010 12:44 pm

    Too cute! Sounds like you had a great time, everything looks delicious!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:05 pm

      Once I broke through the disguises, I did indeed have a good time. And it was all very delicious. Perhaps you’ll run along these places one day.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:17 pm

      He probably didn’t have the greatest time during the working parts of his trip, but I think he quite enjoyed the eating parts 😉

  5. November 23, 2010 12:48 pm

    Hilarious and well written! I’m totally jealous of your adventures in foreign vegan land! Everything looks and sounds amazing!!!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:43 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for overlooking my blurry pictures 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:18 pm

      I’m jealous too, especially of his meal at Saf!

  6. November 23, 2010 12:56 pm

    I will look both of these up when I am in either location! Love the one in London with all these sweet goodies!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:44 pm

      Please do! Hope to hear about it if you make it to either one.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:19 pm

      I hope to eat at these places someday, myself!

  7. November 23, 2010 2:38 pm

    this is perfect! I’ve been trying to find vegan spots in London!!!! thank yoU!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:46 pm

      You can find even more at the Vegan London site. Good luck!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:20 pm

      You can also read about MY time in London here!

  8. November 23, 2010 5:09 pm

    Fun adventures, Almost Heagan. I love Rawberts and go there often. I still have yet to go to London to enjoy the delicious vegan eats at Saf.

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:47 pm

      I’m jealous you get to have Rawbert’s delicious smoothies on a regular basis!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:21 pm

      I remember reading your last Rawbert’s post. Hopefully I’ll make it there someday!

  9. November 23, 2010 6:41 pm

    Another brilliantly written and entertaining post, Matt! Hurrah! And this is making me almost burst with excitement about visiting my first raw food restaurant next week… I shall implode if it falls through!

    I also would have *had* to get those mystery Lucky Dip desserts. ‘Cause, you know, walking on the side of danger or whatever that phrase is…

    (I’m having to ignore the fact that you got to go to London, though. Raw food + travel is too much for my yearning self to handle.)

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:53 pm

      Well you SHOULD be bursting with excitement! Raw food will knock yer knickers off!

      I didn’t see the Lucky Dips till I’d already stuffed my mouth with a cupful of gelato 😦 I’ll be sure to inform my agents to have Lucky Dips awaiting your arrival in London, should you make it there.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:22 pm

      ::tries very hard not to make a joke about “lucky dip”s…:: 😉

  10. wolfenstein permalink
    November 23, 2010 7:06 pm

    wow ! u go to london???? great!!! i like london.
    happy thanksgiving day!!!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:54 pm

      I’ve only been to London twice, but have loved it each time.
      Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:23 pm

      Isn’t he lucky? 🙂

  11. November 23, 2010 7:27 pm

    Love your amusing writing style, but I thought that giraffe was adorable and hope that you kept him, or sent him to a good home!

    I was just in London also and followed in similar footsteps to yours, although I only had a nut milk latte at Vita-O and actually dined at Vantra, their spinoff a couple blocks away. I blogged about it. And I went to Saf, but the small version of it in the Kensington Whole Foods food-court.

    I’m so glad that you’re participating in and enjoying this exploration! And what a fun partnership with Amber.


    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 6:59 pm

      The funny thing about that giraffe is that it had an entire body hiding within the smoothie. Don’t worry though, I handed him off to another undercover agent who was disguised as a trash can.

      I will have to scorn my intelligence gatherers for not alerting me to the existence of Vantra. We almost went to the Kensington Saf establishment, but my benefactor elected for the original.

      Glad you’re spreading the message with your own blog!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:25 pm

      I was sad, too, that he didn’t bring the giraffe home!

      It was so cool that you two were there at the same time – I got to pass your London wisdom and recommendations along to Matt in real time. 🙂

  12. November 23, 2010 8:53 pm

    That was a fantastically written post! You two make a great pair!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:01 pm

      Thank you! We most certainly do!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:25 pm

      I love that he’s a great writer 😀

  13. November 23, 2010 9:11 pm

    So much good food–where to start?! Although the Sampler platter was tempting as my first choice, I still think I’d have to go with my standby favorites–the glass case of pastries 🙂 Goodness they look good!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:03 pm

      Our cover was blown immediately after I snapped the photo of the pastry case, so I was unable to sample any of them. 😦 If YOU ever make it to Gelupo in London, please tell me how they are!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:26 pm

      See, if I had been there with him, I bet we could’ve made a dent in that pastry case 😉

  14. November 23, 2010 9:41 pm

    What a great post. I really like the hegan perspective. I’ve got to get John writing more on the blog. I’m so glad to see Matt checked out Vita organic and Saf. I really liked Vitao but didn’t have the best meal of my life at Saf. So glad to hear a good review. Hopefully I make it back to London for a second try.

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:06 pm

      You can tell John to fill out an application for the Hegan Underground 😉

      That’s too bad about Saf, but it looked like their menu offers enough choices to warrant a second visit.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:27 pm

      You SHOULD get John to write more often! I think more vegan-and-vocal men need to show up in the blogosphere.

  15. November 24, 2010 9:20 am

    Great reviews! I used to live in London and never made it to either of those places until I moved to Saudi Arabia and headed back to London on work trips! Here is my blog post on Saf and I LOVED Vitaorganic, never realised it changed names. Great scores!

    Convent Garden also has great Vegan cafes and eateries (namely in Neale’s Yard). Did you make it there at all? Lucky you!!!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:10 pm

      Looks like you had a successful visit to Saf. Their food is artistic as well as tasty.

      Unfortunately I haven’t heard of Convent Garden, nor its vegan cafés. I’ll tell my European agents to build it into my itinerary next time. Adieu!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:28 pm

      I hadn’t heard of Neale’s Yard either…that’s going on my “Someday List” too!

  16. Spumoni permalink
    November 24, 2010 2:35 pm

    Great job, Almost Hegan (code name). What a relief that you were able to transmit your information quickly enough. That was quite a risk you took on our behalf . 🙂 Excellent photos from your great spy pen camera, too. I look forward to your next mission report from the field. Just be careful, the meat-stapo is everywhere!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:14 pm

      It was well worth the risk, agent Spumoni (code name). I felt the spy pen camera could have taken better pictures…an upgrade is pending. Though the meat-stapo would like to stop-o me from eating at such establishments, I shall persist! Until next time…


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:33 pm

      I’m just relieved he made it home safe…

  17. November 24, 2010 3:05 pm

    Oo-tay unny-fay.

    (See how I wrote that in code to avoid detection? I’m SO incognito like that.)

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:15 pm

      Ank-thay oo-yay 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:33 pm

      Wendy, there may just be a job for you in The Organization… 😛

  18. kathleen permalink
    November 27, 2010 4:46 pm

    I practically lived at Vita-Organic when I was in London. Memories… Oh, and I had looked up Rawbert’s many a time when I lived in Boston but never made it up to Beverly. Thanks for the reviews!

    • Matt permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:17 pm

      I recommend a visit to Rawbert’s should you ever find yourself back in Boston! And I’m glad you enjoyed the reviews.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:34 pm

      I haven’t gotten to eat at either place! Someday…

  19. November 28, 2010 11:08 pm

    Fun to read post, Matt. Very clever! :o)

    • Matt permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:15 pm

      Why thank you! Your little Almost Vegan gives me such a friendly audience. 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 29, 2010 2:36 pm

      Yep, he’s a cute and clever one.

  20. Rachelle permalink
    December 1, 2010 2:41 pm

    Matt’s got some writer in him! Very fun. On the veggie front, I’ve been making “green” smoothies lately. On my own, I have to admit, it just wouldn’t have dawned on me to put spinach in my fruit smoothies. Much to learn…


    • Matt permalink
      December 2, 2010 8:56 am

      Awww! I’m so happy you read and commented! This is definitely the place to learn. I’ve learned a ton from my Almost Vegan. We’ll have to have a smoothie party, have a vegan lunch, or something similar soon. Hugs!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      December 2, 2010 11:13 am

      It wouldn’t have dawned on me either, believe me…I had to learn by internet meme. 🙂 I too am happy to see your comment! Maybe a vegan lunch SHOULD be in our future.

      (PS – did you read Matt’s first post?)

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