As a belated birthday present, my best friend had booked a surprise weekend away for the two of us. Where we were going was unknown and what we would do there was a mystery. Filled with excitement as I packed my bags, I couldn’t help but think ahead to what we would eat. As a self-confessed foodie and obsessive planner, eating is always at the top of my agenda. I could plan for days on end at the places we could dine, stock up on snacks and source the best treats. Not only is the blogger in me screaming out for new places to review and source great content, it is also to avoid the possibility that I won’t find anywhere to eat that caters for Vegans and of which offers a little more than a lettuce leaf.
I am lucky to have a selfless best friend who knows me all too well. I was whisked away to Broadway in the Cotswolds, to the stunning Lygon Arms hotel with beautiful scenery, a gym, spa and fantastic restaurant. With an agenda of long country walks, drinking presecco and a back massage – I definitely felt spoilt. To my delight, she had called ahead to the hotel and notified them of my dietary requirements, a step I never take myself. Scarred from past experiences, I tend to assume that all eateries turn their nose up at the challenge of veganizing a meal therefore I take the risk and make do on the night. This usually consists of asking indirect questions and double checking ingredients in the most subtle manner possible.
But, in this circumstance, I was greeted with nothing but understanding and kindness. At dinner, a unique set menu had been prepared before my arrival. Three courses with a variety of choice, I felt like royalty. Having one vegan option is a delight let alone having 9 to pick from. For a starter I had a vine tomato ragout that consisted of vegetables in a tomato sauce topped with watercress and toasted seeds. For main, although tempted by the risotto, I opted for the puy lentil salad, packed with fresh vegetables and spinach. Choosing the lighter option left room for a dessert of rhubarb compote with raspberry sorbet and flaked almonds. Packed full of sweet and sour flavours and crunchy oats and nuts, it was a dish that made me feel at home.
At breakfast I was treated likewise. My options were clearly outlined before we ate, offering a choice of porridge made with water, a vegan friendly full English breakfast and an abundance of fresh fruit and nuts. In no way did I feel patronised or belittled for my lifestyle choice which made the experience wonderful.
What’s more, for such a tiny village they had many restaurants and cafes to choose from. From pub grub to a posh three course meal, the choice was there. On both days we stopped by restaurant Number 32 Broadway For lunch. Having eyed up a pizza on the menu, we were instantly sold. The Zeus pizza was topped with spinach, red onion, artichoke, olives and sundried tomatoes. Stating that I was dairy-free, the waitress added extra vegetable toppings to make up for the lack of cheese. Bursting with flavours, this was a thin crust Italian pizza I would happily indulge in again. The following day we returned for a Greek Mezze sharing platter which came with garlic flatbread, hummus, tzatiki, olives, artichokes, green salad and feta. As I was sharing with a cheese lover, I didn’t mind the presence of feta on the board nor the tzatiki dip. However, as the salad and cheese were mixed together rather than separated the waitress kindly remembered my preferences and brought me a separate green salad to have with the antipasti.
Aside from eating delicious food, we walked for miles along the Cotswold Way public footpath. We ventured to the Broadway Tower, weaved through flocks of sheep and climbed a stile or two. We ended the getaway with a swim in the hotel pool and a relaxing back, neck and shoulder massage to ease the week’s tensions.
The ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’ that is Broadway is a must-visit for a relaxing break away from city life. It is a breath of fresh air knowing that even in the most rural of places, catering for alternative lifestyles is becoming more prevalent. I will not hesitate to return to the depths of Worcestershire and leave my worries behind.
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