Veg-spiration, Amber Locke and Sainsbury’s unveil the first ever in-store vegetable butcher. 


Food has often been featured in art, whether it be Van Gogh, Caravaggio, or Leonardo di Vinci or basically my experience of art in school, an apple a day keeps the artist at play. 

Now, Due to demand and the increase in the sales of vegetables Sainsbury’s are launching the first in-store vegetable butcher.

Food artist Amber Locke will be in-store turning customer vegetables into new and exciting creations for them to enjoy at home.
The UK’s first in-store Vegetable Butcher will be in its Wandsworth Superstore, South West London from the 16th-18th June. 

Working with vegetable expert and artist Amber Locke, the butcher will show customers there’s no limit to the ways vegetables can be incorporated into their everyday meals, and encourage them to make the most of their favourites from ‘root to tip’.

 The first of its kind veggie counter will be open on a trial basis for three days only, so veg fans should get there quickly as Amber will be demonstrating a range of exciting vegetable preparation techniques from delicious avocado ribbons and broccoli noodles to how to julienne a pepper. 

 Inspired by the rise in nose to tail eating and the expert knife skills found in traditional butchers, The Vegetable Butcher will allow customers to discover new ways to prepare classics such as carrots, broccoli and cucumbers whilst being inspired to try new varieties including beetroot and celeriac and learning innovative ways to use all of the vegetable – all absolutely free. 

 Amber says: “I am passionate about inspiring people to eat more vegetables and showing them just how many ways there are to prepare and enjoy classic produce such as a carrot or pepper, so the “Vegetable Butcher” is the perfect role for me. I can’t wait to hear what customers think of my vegetable-inspired creations, and hopefully food fans will be tempted to go home and try one of the new techniques for themselves this summer.”

While Sainsbury’s is already leading the way with the launch of innovative products such as “Courgetti” and “Boodles” (butternut squash noodles) – the Vegetable Butcher at the Wandsworth store will use more than six different techniques to prepare vegetables including ribbon cut, spiralising, mandolin, wave-cut and julienne. 

The Vegetable Butcher will be open for three days only at the Sainsbury’s Wandsworth store on 16th June (10am – 5pm), 17th June and 18th June (11am – 7pm).

Customers can buy their favourite loose vegetables, then take them to the counter for a preparation of their choice – or to be inspired by a new way to prepare and enjoy them – at no additional cost. 

For more vegetable inspiration, please visit:

Or follow on Twitter at @SainsburysNews.

Sounds a fascinating few days. 

Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Amber Locke is a Vegan artist whose gorgeous geometric fruit and veg designs have made raw veg a work of art. You can find more about her on Twitter @rawveganblonde

Or via her website:

Or Instagram


Restaurant Review: Vanilla Black London revisited. 


I still can remember the first time is saw Michaelangelo’s Ceiling in The Sistine Chapel in Rome, the wonder that something so beautiful had been created and that Art has now evolved over centuries, but still the perfection of a ceiling could rewrite my vision and seduce the poet in me to gasp and be silent. 

Then the other week in London I had the luxury of seeing Claude Monet’s lily pond paintings at The Royal Academy. The simplistic but oh so sure images of a scene that was so precious to him that he recreated it so many times in order to demonstrate its beauty. 

So what’s this got to do with food, or with London’s Vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black? 

Well it’s with the élan of the cooking and the presentation of the dishes. An artists eye for colour. Art you see can be precise, intricate, and flamboyant, Or it can be dark and light, shades of grime amongst the surface, with Vanilla Black the beauty on the plate of so much of the food presented to us was nuanced with compelling flavours and spoke to me of my morning gallery visit. The design to get it right, the light, the lush, the technicolor of shouting through the spectrum of brightness. 

That is to me Vanilla Black. To be the best, to be thoughtful with every bite the customer takes. The wow factor, the surprise (by meat eating punters) that vegetarian food can be so good. 

So I guess that sounds like a conclusion before I begin. Well in truth it is. Vanilla Black makes you want to mix up the rules, you won’t find burgers, risotto, curry or pasta bake here. Though I guess if you did it would be the best you’d had.

When I first visited Vanilla Black a couple of years ago I was enthralled by it’s heartbeat. Feeling that Nothing could prepare you for the pleasure of eating there. Set in an elegant townhouse in Tooks Court, the legal area of East London, the dining room is a mellow sophisticated hush of understatement. Muted colours, a calming air of relaxation. It feels right before you even begin the food. 

Ruth and I visited on a Saturday evening. Its popularity was visible and it was noticeable that their was a fair bit of smiling when people’s food arrived. That wow factor I mentioned. 

An amuse bouche, sorbet like. A cleansing begining. Followed by some stunning homemade bread, always a good sign of things to come.    Amuse Bouche. Fresh homemade bread.

So to the food. My starter Dried Yeast Pumpkin Terrine with Orange Purée -Seeded Cinder toffee, mulled pumpkin and oil. A beautifully constructed dish of subtle but cooling flavours. The terrine with hints of toffee running through against the bright fruity orange that dances upon the tongue. Layers of unorthodox flavous, sharper with every mouthful. Lovely. 



Ruth’s Yorkshire Blue Cheese Toastie, Crisp Rye, Grapes, Puffed Wheat: Light, cheesy, no bread, constructed and flavoured beautifully. She loved it. 


It’s when the creative imagination of the chef (Andrew Dargue) consumes a dish that you know that you are in elegant surroundings. Take my main course: Salted and Ash baked Celeriac & Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, Yoghurt Curd: A dish with layers and layers of differing textures and flavours. 

The earthy, crisp, bright coloured  kale, the subtle but soft whey poached celeriac of oozy decadence. Then the ash baked celeriac, the charred crust of the charcoal baked with a riveting harmonious result that’s lifts the root vegetable to another level entirely. Clever enlightened cooking, every ingredient put together perfectly. A supreme dish. 

 Salted and Ash Baked celeriac and Kale-Whey poached celeriac, Broccoli, yoghurt curd.


 Ruth’s main course 


Desserts follow a similar creative line as the first two courses. Mine, Poached Rhubarb with Salted Orange Yoghurt and Rhubarb Toffee: Crispy Porridge and Moscatel Syrup: The shocking pink of rhubarb beautifully poached, a depth of tart flavour set off by the dash of explosively crispy porridge as a contrast. Plated like a painting of subtle brush strokes that is playfully mastered and cleverly executed. I loved the complete flavours of this dessert. 

Ruth’s Chocolate Brownie crumble with Marmalade parfait and crispy milk: Dark Chocolate, contreau, candied kumquat which she enjoyed especially the harmonious flavours of the chocolate and the orange. 

All of this is done with effortless and charming service from front of house Donna and her team, who are passionate about their dishes and the experience you may discover. 


The dark cooking clouds have lifted. Visiting Vanilla Black will certainly banish those over cooked risottos and death by pasta bake. Food consumed with big brash bold flavours

Vanilla Black is an upmarket treat that offers thoughtful indulgences of veggie decadance. It’s a remarkable experience of creative, beautifully presented and exciting food that is art on the plate and a brushstroke on the palette. Even non veggies would love the sophistication, the cleverness, the fun and the delight of this bright canvas of  vegetables. Food executed perfectly, the fact that it’s all Vegetarian is a bonus. 

And then there’s Michaelangelo’s ceiling, well that’s one of the wonders of the world. An idea from a seed of inspiration, much like vegetables, and then it’s what you do with them that matters, that is what makes art. For the food you are unlikely to have tried anything like it before. 


Thanks for reading, 

Andy 😊

Disclaimer: Our food and drinks were complimentary. This doesn’t affect my honest opinion of our meal. 

With thanks to Andrew and Donna for their hospitality and conversation. 

Vanilla Black, 17-18 Tooks Court, CT London EC4A 1LB. 

Subway: Chancery Lane

020-7242 2622.


Vanilla Black In London is the kind of restaurant that gives vegetarian food a good name, no not a bad one, but a good one! It’s an upmarket treat- its a bargain lunch- it’s incredibly enjoyable. Its a Vegetarian Restaurant.

Vanilla Black started life in York. It then moved to East London a few years ago. It is in
Tooks Court– the legal area- it’s smart therefore- but not too smart- it’s sophisticated and relaxed, it has a mellow tone, it’s a charming place for lunch or dinner.

My wife Ruth and I visited for lunch, the restaurant was busy on a Friday. We had been before for my birthday in January, and were in London for the day, so why not do lunch at Vanilla Black too. 🙂

The decor is white and grey, subtle, understated and with a contemporary feel.

The food is creative, beautifully made and presented, and is so very exciting! Vanilla Black appeals to veggies and non veggies alike, on our lunch time visit there were many non veggies enjoying and praising the food and the theatre of the dishes.

Why? Because its exciting, thoughtful, it shows a touch so precise, so intricate, so refined, its just good, so very good.

We settled on the three course lunch menu for £24.50. A bargain we thought! You can have two courses for £19.50 and is a good place for a lunch meeting or lunch break if you work in London.

Having been before we had sampled the style of foraged veggie food before. One of the first heaps if praise is for the fresh bread and butter that appears, beautifully fresh and sets the tone for what’s to follow.

Ruth isn’t vegetarian, but rates Vanilla Black as one of the best restaurants she has ever been to. She loves it. It ticks every box.




We both chose to begin with the intriguingly named

Brie Ice Cream and blackberries with quinoa and pickled spring onions.

It was stunning, very refreshing, with a subtle Brie flavour running through, gently iced and given that extra fruity kick by the blackberries. The presentation was beautiful, a very summery dish, beautifully crafted.

To follow we chose different dishes.
Ruth chose the Double baked Ribblesdale pudding and smoked croquettes with a poached hens egg and pineapple pickle.

She thought it looked stunning again, with a lovely combination of flavours and textures, the hens egg was beautiful, runny, and with the pudding had the right flavours to heighten the dish. It also looked a work of art.



I chose the seared seaweed and cabbage with pickled potatoes, soda bread sauce, pickled mustard seeds, and foraged seaside vegetables.

When it arrived at the table it most definitely had the wow factor, a beautiful looking dish. I had never had seaweed seared before and the flavours and textures were spellbinding! The pickled potatoes were superb. The seaweed gave the dish the right textures and the sauce and veg gave it the luxurious topping to make for a perfect dish. As a whole it was again art on a plate.



For our third course, well after food this refined and enticing it would be rude not to, we both chose the
Smoked paprika fudge, malt loaf and builders ice cream, with crispy pearcr, and smoky pear.ispy It sounded lovely.

It was, it looked beautiful again, a deceptively sweet dish on first taste turned as you took the ice crewman with the fudge into a delicately matched dish that had a lovely combination of flavours with the tea flavour of the ice cream proving to be a real joy. A lovely pudding. All the dishes matched perfectly.

The lunch menu is a superbly thoughtful menu that takes you on a taste journey. It’s such superb value for London.


The service throughout was superb. It’s informative, friendly, and attentive and never feels rushed or charming. They charm you through the dishes and guide those that are unsure as too the ingredients textures and descriptions.

Vanilla Black is so very satisfying, a restaurant that cares and a restaurant that believes that vegetarians do care about food. The chef understands ingredients and creates combinations that are works if art on a plate. The textures and flavours are memorably challenging, but do so with the charm that makes you happy, that makes you smile and compliment.

Each flavour works singularly and together, each mouthful better than the previous. By the end you get it, the dish and the ethos.

Vanilla Black do clever things with veg, elegant cooking. It’s the colours, the shapes on the plate, the construction of the dish.

Vanilla Black is for veggies, but not for veggies alone. It’s for everyone.

London and the Uk is most certainly a better place for it.

Vanilla Black
17-18 Took’s Court
Near chancery lane tube
EC 4a 1LB

020 7242 2622


e: info@