Ely’s Vegan & Vintage Fair is a delicious combination of food and retro finds. Lisa Millard enjoys a taste of what’s to come
Lizzi Flaherty believes there is a time and place for a stuffed pepper or a quinoa salad. “But sometimes only a bit of pastry or something deep fried really hits the spot,” says the woman behind local legends and award-nominated vegan Scotch Eggless wonders (more about those later). “Food is a very emotive thing. The smell, look, taste can all hold so many memories often with a sense of comfort too and I regularly hear “oh I haven't had one of them since...”. It's usually a happy memory of some form.”
Trading at the Farmers’ Market and Ely Food & Drink Festival since 2016, Lizzi launched the eponymous Food! by Lizzi when a redundancy in 2013 offered the chance to cook full time. “Funnily enough my first job was in a local butchers in my home town of Bury St Edmunds. I used to help make the sausage rolls, Scotch Eggs and pies so you could say it set me down a path for the future,”says Lizzi, who prepares her food at home and is up with the lark on market days.
“It started out as a vegetarian business and has changed and grown as I have. I became vegetarian in my late 20s and slowly veganism became the natural progression as I questioned more and more about the way we use animals in our daily lives. For me it is a lifestyle choice with the aim to do the least harm.”
While veganism is currently all the rage, Lizzi admits some nerves attached to making her business vegan. “I was a little nervous about how it would go but the vegan community welcomed the change with open arms. I had so many messages of support and people coming to the stall as they had seen the announcement on social media – it was the most wonderful response.”
Feast your eyes on the delicious goodies Lizzi makes and it is no wonder the change was so celebrated. Savoury rolls are a vegan take on the original sausage, with seasonal flavours such as sundried tomato, mozzarella and Basil and, come Christmas, cranberry and chestnut. “The cheddar style and red onion roll is what I call a hug in pastry,” laughs Lizzi. There are pasties and pies and then the highly-prized Scotch Eggless, a fully vegan version of the traditional picnic and buffet favourite with a tofu ‘egg mayonnaise’centre surrounded by soya mince, then coated in breadcrumb and deep fried. Currently they come in 30 different flavours, ranging from original to the more adventurous full English with baked beans in the mix, and the Mac with homemade vegan mac-n-cheese. They bagged nominations for Best Vegan Snack at the Vegan Festival UK Awards two years running and Lizzi hints at developing a new flavour especially for the Vegan & Vintage Fair.
Sweet stuff comes in fruity-topped pies and more Scotch Eggless but this time featuring dark chocolate cake flavoured with Creme Egg, Turkish Delight, mint, candy floss, cream soda or Biscoff spread, coated in breadcrumb and, yes, deep fried. It really is gastronomic genius.
“I like to think I make good old fashioned British comfort food... just vegan,”says Lizzi, who started her business with the support of the Prince’s Trust, meeting Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall when they visited Ely Farmers’ Market last year. “Prince Charles was lovely. He knew about my products and asked lots of questions, taking special interest in Scotch Eggless.”
Lizzi is looking forward to the Ely Markets Vegan & Vintage Fair, which takes place on Sunday 5 and Bank Holiday Monday 6 May from 10am to 4pm. “Good weather always brings out the happy in people and it's lovely to be a market trader in the sunshine. I have been part of the Vegan & Vintage event since the beginning and enjoyed every one. The atmosphere is lovely, there is a really chilled out vibe.
“It's fantastic that veganism has gone mainstream. It's starting conversations and challenging perceptions. Veganism at it's core is about the animals – it teaches compassion and kindness to all living beings at a time when I think we could all do with a little bit more of it.
Food! By Lizzi can be ordered online at foodbylizzi.com and Lizzi is at the Farmers’ Market, Dolphin Lane, Ely on the second and fourth Saturday of the month and Bury St Edmunds Farmers’ Market on the second Sunday.
Meet the Vegan & Vintage Fair traders
Ingredients for Samu Kitchen’s vibrant vegan food from around the world are not just seasonal and locally sourced and organic where possible; Samu Kitchen celebrates mindfulness in its cooking. Samu is a word from Buddhism and refers to the practice of mindfulness in everyday activities. The fully vegan catering company is based in Bury St Edmunds and cooks up plant-based food for events, festivals and pop-ups. Owner Jessica Livsey, who started the business in 2017, wanted to create exciting life-giving food that just happens to be plant based. Delicious first, vegan second. She has, by all accounts, succeeded. See samukitchen.com
Audrey’s Vegan Cakes
Ely resident Audrey Hewerdine started Audrey’s Vegan Cakes in 2016 determined to show people that vegan cakes could taste as good if not better than traditional dairy-based cakes. Audrey specialises in traditional cakes like Bakewell tart, lemon drizzle, chocolate gateau, Victoria sponge and a range of delicious cupcakes and brownies.Rave reviews claim her carrot cake, red velvet and Viennese fingers taste just as good if not better than the originals. You will also find Audrey’s cakes sold at cafes and restaurants – if you’re lucky – and Audrey makes cakes for special occasions and runs vegan baking classes. See audreysvegancakes.com
Yau’s (Monday only)
These Ely Market regulars sell all-natural and free-from curry and stir-fry sauces. Everything is vegan and definitely delicious. Bonnie and Philip Yau set up the business in 2012 to supply an increasing demand for gluten free foods, free from and locally sourced products. Great pantry staples, sauces are made from original recipes that start out in Bonnie’s kitchen. There are a number if new sauces in the making with Thai curry paste and Korean BBQ sauces and marinades on the horizon. Go stock up. See yausfood.co.uk
The Iced Vegan
Trudy Copeland is the Iced Vegan who lives on the edge of Norfolk and creates the most wondrous bespoke vegan cakes. Launching the business just around a year ago Trudy didn’t want to bake the often oaty and dense cakes that most people associated with vegan baking – her cakes were going to be light and fluffy, moist and flavoursome just like the traditional cakes she had baked in her younger years. And they are just that. From custom-designed wedding and celebration cakes to cup cakes and children’s cakes, this artisan baker attracts top notch testimonials and holds vegan baking and decorating workshops. See theicedvegan.co.uk
Three by One
These lovingly-produced products are made from hand-picked coconuts harvested in Sri Lanka. Laura Dixon who runs the business between Cambridge, Belgium and Antwerp is passionate about organic agriculture and sustainable production. The chemical-free range of coconut oil, creamed and toasted coconut butter, coconut jam, milk, chips, sugar, and nectar is accompanied by a small selection of traditional ayurvedic spices native to Sri Lanka and traditionally used in cooking, beauty products and ayurvedic medicine. Top quality gear. See threebyone.eu
Vegan food will be available on Dolphin Lane and the vintage stalls will be at Market Place. There will be a bar, traditional Bank Holiday market stalls and pop-up food and children’s entertainment. See elymarkets.co.uk