Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Can You Go A Whole Week Without It?

By Christian Rose-Day.

Admit it London; you can’t go an entire week without it.

My New Year’s resolution back in January of this year - remember, when you were cold and miserable? - was to do as the moo-cow does and consume only vegetation. Well, at least reduce the amount of animal products I ingest on a weekly basis anyway. Better for my health, better for my wallet, and best of all, better for the environment.

This resolution of mine will very soon really kick in to gear, during May (better late than never), thanks to the impending National Vegetarian Week (Monday 23rd May - Sunday 29th May). A whole week of no animal whatsoever. Phew, tough. Until now, I’ve managed to trim down to just one meaty meal a day, and then only using it as a flavouring rather than as the main event (oh, how I long for steak!); but the prospect of an entire week is royally daunting. I’m going to need some serious help.


Thank goodness for ex-Locanda Locatelli head chef, Pasquale Amico, then. He and his team have shown me the way. In celebration of National Vegetarian Week, Pasquale’s Amico Bio vegetarian restaurant, hidden in the alleyways near Smithfield market in The City of London, is offering a 4-course, 100% vegan lunch offer that demonstrates how easy it is to live a healthy, guiltless life with nothing more than a few (monetary) beans.

This afternoon I sampled Amico Bio’s special vegan menu, which started with some basic homemade focaccia bread, Gaeta olives, and extra virgin olive oil, before moving onto a demonstration of precisely how a simple menu created using minimal ingredients can have a profound effect on the human fettle (carpaccio of courgettes and rocket salad). That said, the oven-baked red pepper with black olives and capers was the real star of the show. That is, until the homemade pitta bread filled with pear, raisin and cinnamon arrived.

Amazingly, this meat-free mini feast was, and will continue to be for National Vegetarian Week (Monday 23rd May - Friday 27th May), only £15. 15 quid for 4 courses? What. A. Bargain.

You may ask yourself, what from the above list of vegetarian ingredients was organic? No need to specify; the entire menu at the Amico Bio vegetarian restaurant is organic, which is probably why I feel so virtuous right now. Pious even.

Amico Bio is a real hidden gem of a restaurant, and in an area of London probably best known for lunchtime pies and pints of London Pride, it is a brave venture that is taking the idea of change (Yes, we can!) right to The Man, muscling in on (Aldo) Zilli Green’s turf (albeit away from the streets of Soho). And quite rightly too.

So London, I put to you a challenge: ditch the meat for 7 days during National Vegetarian Week. See if you can manage. Even if you don’t turn completely vegetarian, at least you’ll gain a fleeting experience of what life can be like on the other side.

Amico Bio vegetarian restaurant in Smithfields is a great place to start, but if you need further vegetarian inspiration, follow this link

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