Not just treats for vegans
- Credit: Archant
Vegan food is so popular now, with the stats showing that even people who don’t label themselves as vegan are choosing to eat plant-based food more often. If you think cooking vegan food is a hassle, then buying it ready-made for you is a really easy option. The rainbow-coloured Tara’s Vegan Treats stall in St Albans market is hard to miss, as is the queue that forms each Wednesday and Saturday.
I went along to buy lunch from Tara, and I loved the curry I chose, which was a generous box of spiced chickpeas, sweet potatoes, spinach, peppers, green beans, ginger, garlic and lemongrass in coconut sauce (£7). It came with light and crispy paratha or poppadoms if you want a gluten-free option.
Tara told me that people often buy her food to take home, and although she is busiest at lunchtime when everyone escapes their offices, people buy from the stall from the moment it opens, as they can reheat it at work or home; dinner sorted.
Tara told me that she varies the menu according to the weather, but she tries to keep on the favourites as people miss them otherwise. Mac n' cheese is always popular, as are the meatless meatballs. She also aims to make a vegetable-based dish too, for anyone who doesn't like 'mock' meats; the Tex-Mex chilli and coconut curry are popular. There is always a gluten-free option.
Tara is well-known for her puds, and you do have to get to the stall quickly as once they are gone, that's it! Her bestseller is the warm salted caramel pudding and people often request it for their own parties and buy it by the tray. It is a gooey, caramel sponge soaked in salted caramel syrup, topped with dollops of caramel icing, white chocolate chips and melted fudge. It is served with vanilla whip. How amazing does that sound?
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I asked Tara how the stall has been received in St Albans, and Tara told me that she started the stall around a year ago, and has now been able to make it her full-time job.
She is now so busy that she does two days on the market, as well as food festivals (I saw her at the Sustainable St Albans Market Takeover) and Vegan Nights in London. Between market days Tara does cooking for private clients, for dinner parties, birthdays and weddings. She cooked for the Lush Christmas party and has just made 1,300 pud pots for clothing giant Asos; they chose the After Eight, lemon cheesecake and Bounty pots.
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You can buy the pud pots at the market stall, and they can be frozen at home or eaten straightaway; they don't contain any eggs or dairy so store easily. The After Eight pot has a bottom layer of chocolate biscuit, then fudgy tiffin, with a top layer of dark chocolate ganache made with coconut milk.
Tara is hosting a supper club at Hatch on the Hill, which has already sold out so follow them both on instagram for any future dates. The set menu sounds great, with tikka pasty with raita or notzarella sticks with tomato chutney for starters and a hearty cottage pie or teriyaki 'duck' with noodles and mini pakoras for mains. Puds sound amazing with chocolate fudge cake, Snickers torte or a trio of Eton mess, key lime pie or tiramisu. Vegan (and organic) wine will be supplied by Cellar Door, based on London Road.
Long-term, Tara would love to open aim a St Albans-based café or restaurant, so watch this space!