Vegetarian treats at Falmouth restaurant
SOMETHING I don't quite get about vegetarianism is that a lot of products fake the real stuff.
Don't get me wrong, I admire vegetarianism (at least a few times a week) but meat-free bacon, soya mince, veggie sausages and the like have led me to assume that I will only ever be getting a second-rate version of the meat one.
That great preacher of offal scoffing – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – has even confessed to eating more veg these days after the publication of his River Cottage Veg Everyday: "Undeniably, we are faced with the very challenging question: how can we eat really well every day without contributing to global warming, the suffering of animals or the pillaging of our precious marine resources? There is one, unequivocal answer: to eat more vegetables and embrace a world of fabulous, fresh ingredients and finding some new and irresistible ways to cook and serve them."
Open the door to Pea Souk, Falmouth and you enter a world of just that: fresh, irresistible and imaginative ways of cooking and combining fresh vegetables and herbs, with admittedly some fake 'meat' on the menu including the very delicious signature Happy Pig Porkless Pie.
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Cutting down on meat makes complete sense, as Nicola Willis who runs the Pea Souk vegetarian café agrees: "I'm not on a mission to convert the masses but everyone has a responsibility to eat less meat, farmers just can't produce it that cheaply if people expect to eat it three times a day.
"When people say they don't eat vegetarian food, I ask them if they eat beans on toast as that's a vegetarian meal."
The diminutive venue is bursting with customers and character, an Arabic-inspired interior with quirky touches and much more excitingly, a range of home-made cakes and dishes at the counter.
"People come here for a nice home-made plate of food that is actually local and seasonal, most chefs don't even know what that is.
"I have my own vegetable garden so I know the meaning of seasonal."
We tuck into an Indian beetroot and chick pea curry with rice and chutney, spanakopita (filo pastry pie filled with spinach, feta, dill and red onions), a mezze dish and some nachos with veggie chilli, guacamole and sour cream. The spanakopita is absolutely delicious, meaty and green, the curry good but lacking a bit of depth and both the mezze and nachos hit the spot (eat the mezze plate and forget about your five-a-day for a few days).
We follow with Nicola's dessert recommendation – the Bakewell tart and a rhubard, apple, blackberry and hazelnut crumble. M delivers a line I have never heard from her before: "Those desserts aren't just good, they are exceptional."
I nod in agreement, marvelling at the thick layer of blackberry jam at the bottom of the bakewell as I cut through the moist filling. Suddenly, all thoughts of either veg or meat are forgotten, what about the desserts?
Pea Souk launched its first supper club this month kicking off with a legendary Indian Thali night plus live sitar player.
The club is a fantastic opportunity for customers to come and explore a plethora of authentic dishes in an intimate, informal and eclectic setting," explains Nicola. It's the first weekend of every month (ish) and features a different food genre. For more information on the supper club go to peasouk.co.uk or call 01326 317583. Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and evenings for advance bookings only. Outside catering is also available.
Don't forget, National Vegetarian Week runs until Sunday.