V is for Victory

It is also for vegetarians.

What it is not for, unfortunately, is much in the way of food and drink in Devon. I have been looking in vain for a “V” for my alphabetical exploration of Devon; they are just not very visible.

Paul (who you may remember from last year’s Year in Beer challenge and, now I come to think about it, was also responsible for the A-Z suggestion in the first place) had spotted a Venus Cafe and valiantly suggested that it might tick off a vexing letter. So, on Easter weekend, Mrs Running Buffet and I queued up for 20 minutes outside the Venus Cafe on the beach at Blackpool (the Devon one, not the other one) trying to buy something, anything, from them (my exact aims were vague). It was not to be. Having not ventured forward in that time (vigorously or otherwise), we vacated the vast queue and did not manage to sample the various delights of the Venus Cafe.

No “V” for me.

Several weeks later, on a visit to the Riverford Farm shop, I was looking for something for our dinner and what did I see from my vantage point? What vision was this? On the shelf, vying for my attention among the other cheeses, was a block of Vulscombe Devon Goat Cheese. I ventured, with some velocity, to the vittles I had spied and verified my find. You may think me vain, for thinking I could vanquish this challenge without problems, but I was close to voicing my concerns that my vital search for a valid option for “V” had vanished. Not so. Here was a cheese with a value that, to me, went beyond just its vibrant vitamins. I didn’t care for its vintage, or if it was veiny, vapid or even vinegary (it wasn’t any of these things, as it turned out), and I didn’t buy van loads of course, I was just pleased with a valid cheese for my “Vs”.

Vulscombe cheese

Now I had my “V”, what was I to do with it? With a nice goats cheese in my hand, there was only one option that occurred to me; one of our favourite salads. Picking up a butternut squash, some salad leaves and a scoop of frozen redcurrants (forgetting in my excitement that we still have a freezer full of redcurrants from last year’s crop), I headed home to put it all together into a delicious dinner. This is a River Cottage Everyday recipe and works equally as well with beetroot in place of the squash.

Goats cheese salad

What else is “V” for? Vegetarians. Mrs RB and I are not vegetarians, but we do eat a lot of meat-free meals (such as the salad we made with the Vulscombe cheese). There are a few reasons for this: partly the cost of meat, partly the desire to eat more vegetables and, mainly, down to the fact that we have discovered lots of tasty meat-free recipes that are really good to eat. They just don’t have meat in them.

For the vegetarians among you, and for those who would like to try a meat-free week, then watch out for National Vegetarian Week. This year’s National Vegetarian Week will run from Monday 19 May to Sunday 24 May and you can find out more on their website. They are challenging people to go meat-free for a week and I would be really interested to know whether you do see that as a challenge or not. For us, we probably don’t have many completely meat-free weeks, but it would only take a couple of changes to turn a week into a meatless zone. Is it the same for other people?

I’m not evangelical about a vegetarian diet, but I am very keen on tasty meals and there are lots of meat-free recipes that I wouldn’t want people to miss out on just because they don’t feature any meat. If you have been thinking about trying more vegetarian cooking, perhaps you could use National Vegetarian Week as an opportunity to try some different meals (they will be posting recipes on their website during the week); let me know how you get on.


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