Welcome to the Winter Guide from Bitten Oxford, full to the brim with all you need this season.
We’ve got the best produce picks from Cultivate Oxford, great food deals that’ll be extra light on the bank balance (we see you Christmas!), tasty events and top vegan eats in honour of Veganuary.
Plus, a flippin’ awesome competition to win a meal for two at Cinnamon Kitchen.
Pick of the Season
Cultivate is an Oxford-based member’s cooperative set up in 2011 to provide healthy food and education, and to grow the local food economy.
They buy organic produce, mostly from farms within 22 miles of the city, giving them a fair price – 50-70% of the selling price goes back to the growers. They sell at a local market and also offer an online delivery service in Oxford by bicycle courier, thus reducing carbon, pollution and congestion off our streets.
The Cultivate online shop offers over 150 locally sourced organic products including tea & coffees, dry good such as oats and lentils, juices and even super environmentally friendly detergents and deodorants, all from local producers.
Simon from Cultivate has provided his top picks for this winter.
English Root Veg
OK, so there’s nothing exotic or edgy about root veg but it’s something we do really well in the UK. Forget buying your cheap imports from supermarkets, try the real deal from organic farms less than 25 miles from your door. A carrot that actually tastes of carrot, celeriac fresh enough to ribbon and eat raw, beetroot where you can still taste the minerals of the soil it was grown in. Now THAT’s root veg!
Try half/half potato and celeriac mash with a little garlic and olive oil or raw grated carrot/swede/beetroot salad, tossed in sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and a little soya sauce and chilli flakes.
It was a bumper season for squashes and whether you prefer the chewy texture of the Sweet Dumpling or the pasta alternative and aptly named Spaghetti Squash, there’s something for everyone.
However, for us, the King, or rather Prince, of the squash is the Crown Prince. With its beautiful edible duck egg blue skin and gorgeous orange flesh, they are equally good roasted, mashed or sliced thinly and seared in a wok. Toss the seeds in oil, season with salt, pepper and a little chilli then roast them in the oven until crisp and golden.
Like all squashes, they store for a long time but need to be eaten by Spring, so get munching while you can!
One of the few organic English pears we can still get hold of but, my, what a beauty. I don’t even like pears that much but I’m getting through a stack of them a home. I love the way they are firm but juicy, sweet to not overpowering.
Great on their own but amazing chopped on cereal or nibbled with blue cheese.
Preserves & Honey
Is this cheating? I think not. Cracking open a jar of summer’s bounty on a cold frosty day is one of life’s pleasures.
All Cultivate’s preserves, jams, chutneys and marmalades are produced and packed by Elder Stubbs Allotments in East Oxford, part of the Restore project that supports those with mental health issues.
Our Honey comes from bees at Brightwell and, as opposed to many processed supermarket honey, our set and runny varieties are simply a product of the different seasonal flowers the bees gather pollen from. Nifty work bees!
Cooking on a budget? Cultivate has recently launched Cultivate Core, which is 4 of their seasonal English staples (like 600g potatoes, 350g carrots, 350g onions, 350g beetroot) for just £5.
To find out more about Cultivate or to order directly, visit their website: www.cultivateoxford.org.
There is a whole host of vegan food on offer throughout and beyond Veganuary – remember, veganism isn’t just for January! So while Gregg’s vegan sausage roll has been making headlines, here’s a roundup of our favourite Oxford vegan picks.
Dodo Pub Co introduces two new vegan choices
The Rusty Bicycle, along with sister restaurants The Rickety Press and The Bottle of Sauce, has added two new vegan items to their menus – the ‘Tofu or not Tofu’ Burger, made with vegan ‘buttermilk’ fried tofu, spicy slaw and chipotle vegan mayo; and ‘Viva la Vegan’ pizza, made with crushed tomato, basil, pesto Genovese, sun-dried tomato, rocket and pine nuts.
I went by The Rusty last week to sample both, full review on the blog in a couple of days!
Bill’s are taking part in Veganuary with new set menu
Offering 2 courses for £11.95 or 3 courses for 14.95 served until 7pm Monday-Friday, choices include “duck” salad, made with 100% vegan seitan; and an aubergine, lentil & chickpea dhal.
Vegan wines at Vine
Cowley Road’s independent wine shop, has six different vegan wines available by the glass and over thirty available by the bottle – not just for January either this is all the time!
Comptoir Libanais launches vegan feasting menu
Priced at £12.95, including a mezze of two starters, a main and a dessert, dishes include a mezze selection of red pepper hommos served with pita bread and quinoa tabbouleh. Book online at comptoirlibanais.com or email email@example.com.
Stock up on vegan at Wild Honey
The health stores on Magdalen Road and South Parade have loads in store to support you in choosing vegan, whether you are just trying it out, or are a seasoned herbivore: from fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, to recipes, diet ideas and lots and lots of delicious, healthy vegan alternatives – cooking oils, dairy, sausages, snacks etc. All of their new, organic wines in store are vegan too!
Vegan range at itsu expands
40% of their range is now vegan across their sushi, salads, hot food, desserts & drinks. They have now launched two new vegan products to add to this range – a winter wonton & green seasonal soup, and a ‘Losing your Veganity’ bento.
Vegan chocolate bars at Fairtrade at St Michaels
Something to be enthusiastic about, not just for their flavour, but also of course from its hugely ethical treatment of the people involved, AND, as a cherry on the pie, the packaging consists of a recyclable cardboard sleeve and a compostable wrapper!
This range is called Eat Your Hat, and all of their DARK chocolate is vegan – which may sound like a bit of a cop-out but there’s a lot of dark chocolate around that either does contain dairy or might have traces, and therefore isn’t certified vegan.
Vegan i.e. milk-free ‘milk’ chocolate is harder to come by, especially if you want it certified fairtrade as well, but they do have it: So Free 45% Cocoa Organic Milk Chocolate Alternative.
Four-course vegan tasting menu Cinnamon Kitchen
For £35 per person, you can enjoy options of Chargrilled fruit chaat in gem cups, tandoori mushroom with green mango and coriander sauce, or garlic tempered green pea ‘kichri’ with broccoli and cauliflower floret pickle. For your chance to win a free meal for two at Cinnamon Kitchen, read on!
Vegan beer at Tap Social
All of Tap Social’s beer is vegan! Most people don’t realise that beer isn’t vegan, however, most breweries use isinglass to filter their beers, which is made from fish intestine. Tap Social don’t filter their beers, keeping them vegan-friendly and naturally hazy.
They’ve got three brand new beers out this month! The “16ft Norwegian” which is a delicious chocolatey porter, “Stop Wafflin’ On You Doughnut” which is a pastry stout brewed in collaboration with West Berkshire Brewery, and a to-be-named hoppy red ale we also brewed with West Berkshire Brewery.
New vegan burger at LEON
LEON has launched the ‘Love Burger’ – Soya-beetroot patty topped with a vegan Carolina mustard mayo, LEON burger sauce, tomatoes, pickles, and a slice of smoked gouda-style vegan cheese, in between sourdough burger buns. We haven’t tried this one yet, and I’m not entirely sure I’m keen to, so let me know if you do!
For more inspiration, you can visit veganuary.com and we highly recommend checking out our Best Vegan Food in Oxford, by our fab guest writer Heather from Vegan Eats Oxford, whose Instagram is full in vegan meal inspo.
Winter Deals & Offers
Individual venue T&Cs apply!
#WineWednesday launches at Vine
You can usually buy any one of their retail bottles and drink them on site for a corkage fee of £10 (making them a bargain compared to restaurant wine lists) but visit on a Wednesday evening and tag them on FB/IG/twitter, and they won’t charge you corkage.
This means you can try something different/new/weird and enjoy their lovely atmosphere at retail prices (offer excludes any of their wines currently offered by the glass).
Top Pick – 50% off your bill at Pint Shop
January sale time at Pint Shop. It’s the new year, and let’s face it we’re all a bit broke after the festive period, and although many of us try and start the new year with healthy resolutions, we really just want to get out and enjoy a nice meal.
Which is why Pint Shop is offering a whopping 50% off your food bill on pre-booked tables until 18th January.
To make this most of this offer, you must be signed up to their newsletter, you will receive an email with all the details and T&C’s on. Not signed up yet? http://eepurl.com/L-XLH
2-4-1 at Cinnamon Kitchen
Cinnamon Kitchen is also doing 2-4-1 on all dishes on the menu. Guests can tuck into the likes of banana wrapped sea bass, tandoori chicken breast and pink aubergine. This offer is available until the end of January. For the quality of food they offer this is a cracking deal!
15% off Afternoon Tea at Eynsham Hall
There is 15% off Afternoon Tea at Eynsham Hall throughout January (usually £22.50pp). The offer applies to Champagne Afternoon Tea as well (usually £29.50pp) and is applicable on all bookings made and taken on or before 31 January 2019. Quote ‘Bitten Oxford’ when booking.
Top Pick: Lunch deals at Porterhouse Grill & Rooms
The Porterhouse Grill & Rooms, just around the corner from Oxford city station, is a meat-lovers paradise with some cracking lunch deals like steak frites. Having tried lots of their food, I can confirm it’s excellent!
Giles Coren recently reviewed Porterhouse in The Times and said: “The steaks were very good indeed… the chips were historic, the greens were perfect, the slaw was beautifully sharp and the four homemade sauces (béarnaise, pepper, anchovy and salsa verde) were all outstandingly done”.
Oyster Happy Hour at Cuttlefish
Throughout January, Cuttlefish are running a daily happy hour for oysters! The seafood restaurant is offering oysters at half price from 5-6pm, subject to availability. And, sister venue La Cucina is offering a new fixed price menu from 11am – 5pm for £9 per person, including main course, side salad and drink.
£1 mains at Carluccio’s
10% discount at The Cosmic Cake Company
I’ve been following The Cosmic Cake Company on Instagram for a while now, and their food feed of vegan and raw ‘conscience & creative’ cakes look pretty spectacular. This January, they are offering 10% off using. Visit their website for more details: thecosmiccakecompany.co.uk.
50% off all à la carte main courses and specials at The Black Horse in Thame
With 50% off all à la carte main courses and specials until 12th February, warm up with a hearty duck leg cassoulet, Malabar fish curry, slow-cooked boeuf bourguignon, moules frites with red Thai curry sauce, steak frites, glazed aubergine, or pan seared organic tofu with Asian spiced marinade. Sign up to the newsletter https://whitebrasserie.com/#mailing-list to receive your unique code.
Food in the nude at Tap Social
Make sure you’re squeaky clean before booking for this one, because you’ll be leaving your clothes at the door!
Native Feasts, Tap Social and Dine Naked Oxford are collaborating to host a feast called “Food in the Nude”, where guests are invited to dine naked in celebration of promoting healthy body image in a safe environment. The event takes place on Tuesday 5th February, tickets cost £25 per person and can be purchased here.
Taste Tibet pop up at Silvie
Taste Tibet is another great choice for vegan food, with at least two dishes at their regular Gloucester Green market stall vegan, and three at the next instalment of their popular Taste Tibet popup at Silvie, restarting as takeaway and eat in from 6pm-9pm every Thursday from 17th Jan.
Feast on their delicious momo dumplings, hearty Himalayan curries, and some amazing weekly specials. Not only are they vegan-friendly, but all our curries are gluten free and takeaways are provided in 100% recyclable/compostable containers – or bring your own! More details on their Facebook event page.
SneakySupperClub at The Isis
Hot on the heels of previous events at The Isis, SneakySupperClub is back on 1st February with their annual “Doombuster” Supperclub to mark the end of the post-Christmas lull. They’ll be doing a seasonal 5-course menu, and there’ll be some fantastic live gypsy jazz from the Isis Farmhouse landlords Noreen and Adrian.
The event starts at 8pm and they can accommodate most dietary requirements with advance notice. Tickets cost £42 per person and must be booked in advance, available through tickedit.
Win a Meal for Two at Cinnamon Kitchen!
Cinnamon Kitchen Oxford is collaborating with Bitten Oxford to give away a three-course a la carte dinner for two with a bottle of house wine.
To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is sign up for our Bitten Newsletter – our inbox joy of all the latest from the blog, hot food & drink news, and even more great competitions. If you’re already subscribed you will automatically be in with a chance of winning.
The competition closes at noon on Friday 25th January, at which point a winner will be chosen at random. We will contact the winner directly via email, so make sure you’ve added firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact list so you don’t miss out!
Terms & conditions:
- Winner must book in advance
- May not be used in conjunction with any other offers
- Cannot be redeemed for cash
- The prize is limited to 3 courses from the a la carte menu with a bottle of house wine to share, for 2 people maximum
- Must be redeemed within 6 months of winning
- Cannot be used on certain blackout dates
We Love to Chat
So, that’s it for our Winter Guide, we’d love to hear from you – where is your favourite vegan food in Oxford? Where is your favourite local meal deal? Have you tried any of the places or events we’ve recommended? Let us know in the comments section below. And no, we haven’t forgotten Valentine’s Day, we’ll have more on that soon.