Camden Market is playing its part in World Vegan Month (every November, fact fans) by cutting the ribbon on the capital’s first plant-based pie and mash shop.
Since last December, the Young Vegans have been popping-up in markets around the capital. “It was great,” says co-owner Marco, “but we found it frustrating that people kept asking us where they can find us and the only answer we could give them was, well, we’re here next weekend.”
As such, Marco and his wife Carla Monsora – a passionate vegan chef and the woman behind his conversion a couple of years back – were delighted to open their first bricks-and-mortar store in the heart of Camden.
With Carla at the helm of the culinary side, the pair aim to create wholesome, comfort food, as tasty as it is healthy. “The thing with vegans,” Marco says, “is that sometimes you just want to eat indulgent, hefty meals; it can’t be charred veg and kale all the time.”
Filled with orderly rows, the pies come crammed with scrambled tofu, smoky baked beans, caramelised onions and vegan sausages (the breakfast pie) or for a limited time, a deceptively dairy-less bundle of mac‘n’cheese spilling from their crusts.
Marco’s favourite, and their top-seller, is the seitan and sweet ale pie. “You can’t have a vegan place without seitan,” he says, “it’s fast become a staple in our diet.”
We naturally nabbed one fresh from the oven. Hunks of deceptively meaty seitan (wheat protein), made in-store, sat in a pool of thick, slightly sweet ale sauce penetrating each cube of wheat-meat. The pastry-case was spoonably soft with a delicately flaky upper crust.
Smothered in a sizeable dollop of silky mash, and doused in a subtle parsley gravy, the dish moulded effortlessly together with a sprinkling of fresh rocket.Far from a light lunch-bite, it’s warming and hearty for a cold snap, while the reassurance that it’s vegan keeps a little bit of spring in the step as the afternoon rolls on. This is the perfect spot to incubate from the winter winds.
Young Vegans have also created a faultless dark chocolate mud pie: spongy on the outside, oozing in the middle, it is topped with a crisp drizzle of peanut butter.
Post-lunch, Marco, whose always been quite the man about Camden Town – having organised the Camden Pub Crawl and a music walking tour in the area – takes us on a little stroll around the market, chatting to people as we go.
“I’m delighted to have set up our first store here,” he says, “this is fast becoming a vegan hub and it’s so nice to be part of it and to help it grow.”
Read how The Fields Beneath went vegan here