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Vegetables à Brás with The Yogi Wanderer

I love taking a peek at the gorgeous vegetarian recipes that are being cooked up around the world. Today, we’re stepping into  travel blogger, The Yogi Wanderer, Vanda’s kitchen to sample her amazing vegetarian rendition of the typical Portuguese dish, Bacalau à Brás. We instantly connected over the fact that we are both traveling vegetarians, and so I invited her to share her story and best travel tips!

vegetables a bras yogi wanderer

 

Meet Vanda!

meet vanda from the yogi wanderer

Born on the small island of Azores Archipelago, Portugal, Vanda always dreamed of exploring the world and taking a stab at living in a big city. Her first big adventure happened when she moved to Lisbon to study, and then went on to pursue a career as a journalist. But living in a big city with a steady job wasn’t satisfying. “I remember sitting on my desk at work, looking out the window and thinking, ‘There’s a whole world out there to explore!’ I felt trapped in a job and a place that didn’t feed my soul,” she tells me. She decided to do a complete 180 and jump head first into becoming a full-time yoga teacher to learn more about her purpose in life and to help others do the same.

Recently, she left Lisbon for Zurich with her boyfriend to finally quench the thirst of discovering the world outside Portugal. She writes about these inner and outer journeys on her blog, The Yogi Wanderer. Since dipping her feet into the life abroad, she has no regrets. “I think I would like to go back to Portugal one day…I miss the sun! But so far living abroad has taught me a lot about myself and the world and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

How do you travel?

gondolas Venice Italy Yogi wanderer

Taking in the gondolas in Venice, Italy.

Traveling is not always comfortable. “I’m not a backpacker, but I wouldn’t say I’m a luxury traveler. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.” Ever the curious person, she’ll try anything once. “From camping to cruising, I can’t say no to a new experience!” Vanda also points out that although it’s a thrill to get a great deal, it’s nice to splurge on the occasional indulgence.

If Vanda could recommend one thing to travelers it would be to travel slowly. “I’ve been increasingly trying to put it into practice myself,” she laughs. “It’s easy to rush from one place to the next when you just start traveling and want to see the most of every destination. But sometimes the more you see the less you truly experience each place you visit. Traveling is not about collecting countries in your passport but authentically connecting with each location and people. As I see it, that’s also the only way to learn about the world and yourself through travel.” I couldn’t agree more.

Traveling as a vegetarian

Becoming a vegetarian was simply a natural step for Vanda after discovering Yoga and its philosophy of non violence towards other living beings. She has been an ethical vegetarian for seven years and holds the firm belief that animals are not resources born into this world for human consumption or entertainment. Plus, meat consumption is one of the main causes of climate change.

Vanda is a lot more optimistic than I am when it comes to having dietary restrictions when traveling. When asked if it affects her trips, she simply stated “No, it doesn’t affect it at all! There’s no place in the world where you can’t find some kind of vegetables or fruit, so I don’t really even think about it while I’m planning or enjoying my trips.” Her other top tip? When all is lost, find an Italian restaurant! They’re everywhere! Vanda’s favourite meal was even at an Italian/Mediterannean restaurant in Zagreb called Agava. She raves about their tagliolini pasta with pumpkin and gorgonzola cheese, cool vibe and service.

View of Zagreb, Croatia.

View of Zagreb, Croatia.

Nevertheless, when it comes to her home country of Portugal, she admits that the vegetarian food culture is still trying to catch wind and most locals find the concept altogether weird. Nevertheless, in the bigger cities like Lisbon, things are starting to change. One of the country’s most typical dishes, Bacalhau à Brás, gained its own veggie version, replacing the cod with vegetables. It’s her personal favourite, and lucky us, she’s willing to share!

Recipe time!

Ingredients for Vegetable à Brás

Ingredients for Vegetable à Brás

Vanda’s Vegetables à Brás recipe is simple, fast and oh so comforting. It is a perfect example of Mediterranean cuisine which highlights earthy veggie flavours without involving complicated spices to confuse the palate. I really recommend trying her recipe, but the beauty of this dish is that it is easily adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand. Delicious alone or drizzle over a little spicy Portuguese Piri Piri for a kick!

Print Recipe
Vegetables à Brás
This is a vegetarian remix of the traditional Portuguese dish, Bacalau à Brás courtesy of my friend Vanda from The Yogi Wanderer. Super quick to make and extremely adaptable to whatever veggies you need to use up in your fridge.
vegetables a bras yogi wanderer
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5-10 minutes
Cook Time 10-15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
vegetables a bras yogi wanderer
Instructions
  1. Clean and thinly slice the white leek stalks. You don't need the green parts for this recipe. Chop up the mushrooms and grate the carrot.
  2. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to help them break down, but not too much as the shoestring potatoes will add saltiness to the dish.
  3. Once leeks are soft, add mushrooms and grated carrot. While the vegetables are cooking, beat the eggs with a fork or whisk until the yolks and whites are blended.
  4. Once veggies are cooked through, take the pan off the heat and mix in shoestring potatoes and eggs.
  5. Garnish with chopped parsley and olives and enjoy!
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7 reasons you should visit Geneva!

Perhaps since we’re only half-way through the year, the declaration of Geneva being my best trip of the year could be a tad premature. That said, for me this trip couldn’t have been more complete: I got to fill my gullet with copious amounts of wine and cheese, and to top it off, I was reunited with my best friend after two long years apart.

cordoba patio festival

The last time I saw Andrea, at the Cordoba Patio Festival in 2015

A lot of travelers are wary of Switzerland, and with good reason. It’s freaking expensive! Being a budget traveler, this trip was made much more accessible because I was able to stay with a friend. That’s the great thing about living abroad and traveling – you end up with some hot ticket friends in cool places willing to put you up! Because I was able to stay with a semi-local (Andrea is working for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for 6 months), I’ve got the inside scoop on how to enjoy the city for less. Get on Couchsurfing to save some accommodation dollars, because Geneva is amazing! Here’s why:

1. You can chill out at the lakeside spa

With Swiss prices sitting much higher than in most neighbouring countries, it’s easy to feel like a bit of a bum when in Geneva. However, even the budget traveler can treat himself to a day at Les Bains des Pâquis on Lake Geneva – 20 CHF in the winter (13 on Mondays) or 10 in the summer months. This price gives you access to 2 saunas, a Turkish bath, and 2 hammams (one of which is women-only). If you’re feeling brave, take a dip in the lake!

Warning: it’s a mixed bathhouse,  so you might will see some very naked men. If you’re squeamish about seeing stranger ding-a-lings, the baths offer a female-only day on Tuesdays.

bains des paquis lake geneva

Due to all the nude men, I couldn’t ethically take photos, but here is the lake where you can bathe.

Afterwards, if you can afford a little extravagance after a grueling day at the spa, indulge in a little cheese fondue. Is there anything better than melted cheese and bread? (Or potatoes if you’re gluten intolerant like my friend)? Yes, there is – pair it with chardonnay and you’ve got yourself an Instagram photo to be envied by all.

Bit pricey, but this is the best value in town – 23 CHF per person, and we splurged 35 CHF on the bottle of wine. Luxury comes at a price, but no regrets!

beach playa plage bains des paquies

Beachside at les Bains de Paquis – Crack open your supermarket wine here and enjoy the sun!

2. Wine, glorious wine!

Tasting Geneva’s best wine at Les Caves Ouvertes ?❤

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It was completely by accident that I found myself in Geneva for the 30th anniversary of Les Caves Ouvertes. About 90 vineyards in the Geneva region open their doors to the public for a wine tasting. It’s a great deal – you pay 10 CHF for a glass (that is yours to take home) and can sample as many varieties of wine as you desire. Rosé, pinot noir, merlot, chardonnay, cava… you name it! If you like a particular wine, they are available to purchase, but for the traveler paying his way on a non-Swiss salary it’s a fantastic way to sample Switzerland’s best wine for basically nothing. The villages are so picturesque, and there are even free shuttle buses to visit them all safely. This event only happens once a year in May, so book your trip accordingly!

3. All the bubbly cheesy goodness!

If you think the fondue should have been enough cheese, you are very very wrong. Nothing can satiate my desire for cheese! Feast your eyes on Switzerland’s most prized dish, raclette:


I’m pretty sure if you don’t have raclette while in Geneva, there’s a hefty fine you have to pay. Could be an urban legend, but I’m not taking any risks.

raclette geneva sardigny

Do you think this would take up too much counter space?

bubbly raclette

Bubbly, toasty goodness!

Served with potato, pickles and pickled onions raclette

Served with potato, pickles and pickled onions. Mmmmmm!

4. Picnic lunches are totally budget-friendly

Switzerland gets a bad rep for being pricey… and I’m not going to kid you, it deserves it. Even a falafel platter at the hole-in-the-wall Kebab will set you back around 20 francs (roughly 18 euros or 20 US dollars). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food in grocery stores isn’t insanely priced. Sure, it’s more expensive than its neighbour France, but you can make a decent meal for a reasonable price. Migros is one of the cheaper options, and a simple picnic-style lunch like the one pictured set us back about 15-20 francs between two people (minus the wine… I saw some wine on sale for 6 euros, but generally expect to pay at least 10 CHF for a decent bottle).

vegetarian picnic on the balcony

Picnic on the balcony: Hummus, olives, wine, cheese and veggies . What more could you wish for?

5. It’s home to the United Nations

It’s been four years since I graduated with a degree in International Studies, but the poli-sci student in me had a little bit of a freak out when I realized I would be granted access to the United Nations. Even if you consider yourself apolitical, I think the UN Palais des Nations is worth a visit. There aren’t many places where you can see such a mosaic of people from so many different places, many of whom are sporting the typical apparel of their country.

Entrance to the Palais des Nations

Through Andrea, I received a guest pass, but anyone can receive a one hour tour for 12 CHF. If you have a student card handy, you can get your ticket for 10 CHF. There’s a lot of gorgeous art to be admired, all donated by different member countries. This one particularly stood out to me:

A gift from Iran to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

A gift from Iran to the United Nations Human Rights Council

This painting was gifted to the Palais des Nations by Iran. The translation is haunting and humbling:

“Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and one soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain. If you have no sympathy for human pain, The name of human you cannot retain.” (Saad, Persian poet, 1210-1291)

Another attraction is the ceiling to the UNHRC conference room. It was designed by the Majorcan artist, Miquel Barceló, and imitates stalagmite rock formations and sea waves, merging two opposite worlds together. Each part is painted in different colours, so from wherever you stand you see the work from a different perspective. Barceló deems it a metaphor for our complex world. A gorgeous, yet terrifying piece, I couldn’t help but imagine that it also serves as a warning to delegates to be on their best behaviour, else a sharp rock formation should happen to fall…

UNHRC room miquel barcelo ceiling

6. Its history is so quirky!

Geneva’s historic buildings are quite unpretentious due to the Protestant Reformation that took place in the first half of the 16th century. Fancy, extravagant churches like those of Roman Catholics were rejected, and you can see a return to modesty in the architecture. Some houses in the old quarter don’t even have shutters to keep out the light because it was considered suspicious if people wanted privacy from they neighbours. For what was there to hide? To preserve this piece of history, new tenants still are unable to shield their windows.

A scene from the old quarter of Geneva

A scene from the old quarter of Geneva

However, there are some fancier monuments to behold. The one that really impressed me was the Brunswick Monument that sits right on Lake Geneva. You would think that this Brunswick guy must have done something really effing great to merit this spectacular commemoration on such prime real estate, wouldn’t you? Well turns out, he was just some filthy rich Duke who had no family to bequeath his enormous fortune to when he died, so in 1862 he offered the city of Geneva what today would be worth 1 billion euros. His sole condition? That they build a big ass monument in his name. It’s got lions guarding it and everything. Damn.

The Brunswick Monument

The Brunswick Monument

Brunswick monument

And you know what’s even more hilarious? This custom of making a big donation with strange strings attached is fairly commonplace in Geneva! The final descendant of the Revilliod de Rive family donated his 46-acre park to the United Nations, but his catch was slightly more down-to-earth than Brunswick. The UN must ensure that his peacocks and their descendants are taken care of and able to roam freely on the grounds.

peacock united nations

The Lord of the UN grounds

I learned all of these fun facts on the Heart of Geneva tour given by Free Walk tours.  Our local guide, Alex, was really charismatic and knowledgeable. It’s a great way to see a lot of the city on the cheap (but c’mon, throw in a tip, they’re usually students).

7. I saw my best friend after two long years

Reunited with wine in hand!

The top reason why this trip was special to me was because I got to see my best friend, Andrea! This girl cannot stay in one place, and I’d get mad at her if she weren’t doing such great things. After completing a Masters in Peace Operations, Humanitarian Law and Conflict in Galway, Ireland, she’s been teaching English in Spain, giving gender equality workshops and helping women set up businesses through cooperatives in Rwanda, trying to free human rights defenders in Dublin… and finally working with the UN in Geneva. She’s a freaking superstar and I have no idea where she gets all the energy from . (She credits dark chocolate and chai tea, but I don’t buy it! ?)

Really, Andrea, Geneva could have had a wine and cheese shortage, and I would have still had the best time. Thank you so much!

Have you reunited with a friend overseas?  What are your tips for traveling in expensive countries?

Keeping up the blog (a reflection)

Since launching The Globetrotter Cookbook back in September of last year, I’ll admit it’s had its ups and downs. Writing a weekly post, sharing recipes that I feel proud of and developing stories that people want to read is intimidating. And when you only have yourself to hold to account? Even more difficult.
Sometimes I need to stop and reflect on why I started this blog. I talked to other new and seasoned bloggers about this, and found these are common struggles and insecurities.

picnic parc tete d'or lyon

I just want to eat and travel for a living… is that so hard?

One of the bloggers who reached out to me was Maria from Travel Bliss. We connected through Nomadic Matt’s Superstar Blogging Course over our love for traveling and sharing stories, but also the fact that we are new to blogging and needed some motivation. Maria sent me some questions that really got me thinking about why this project is so important to me. This post is a little different from what I normally write, and some answers are a little personal, but I hope that by sharing, this little community can grow closer.

1.     What is the inspiration for starting The Globetrotter Cookbook blog?

Anybody who knows me knows that I can’t stand so-called inspirational quotes. It basically kills me to reference Tony Robbins, but he has a quote that pinpoints the reason why I started blogging:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

I have always been adventurous – my mom likes to remind me that as a child I would frequently “run away”, not because I was mad at her, but because I voraciously craved adventure. She even helped me pack sandwiches to take on the excursions to my hideout under a bush in the alley behind our house.

And nothing’s really changed. I moved to Spain after university to teach English, satiating my wanderlust while earning a half-decent paycheck. Fast forward to 4 years later, and I’m still here. What was meant to be a temporary “see the world” job seems to be turning into my career. Sure I like teaching, and I love my little munchkins. But when it comes down to it, teaching isn’t my passion.

esl in spain

Mauled by loving Kindergardeners… not the worst part of my job!

I was on a flight from Paris to Budapest last Spring thinking about how I could change directions. I had been “working to live” instead of “living to work” for so long that it took a little bit of pondering to remember my passions : travel, food and sharing both with friends and people I meet on Couchsurfing!

The reality is at 25, I’m starting to think more about my future and attempting to mould myself into the person I want to be. Becoming a successful blogger may be a far-off dream, but as I see it, now is the time to try. What have I got to lose?

barranquismo spain juzcar canyoning

I’m a risk-taker, just look at me jumping down this waterfall in Juzcar, Spain!

2.     What is the one special thing which drives you to travel?

Ironically, my motivation to travel stems from one of my worst qualities: my short attention span. I am easily bored, and staying in one place makes me feel confined, anxious and at the worst times, depressed. This attribute is what pushes me to travel – I constantly crave new, different experiences: moving around helps to satiate this hunger, however briefly. It does worry me sometimes that I’ll never settle down, but I’m content with burying that insecurity away for now.

toledo gardens spain

Enjoying the sun in Toledo, Spain. No need to overthink things.

3.     What are the hardships you faced in setting up your blog?

Before I started my blog, I did a lot of talking. I was so excited to share my plans for The Globetrotter Cookbook, and everyone around me seemed to think it was a stellar idea. I received so much encouragement that the day I first launched the blog, I thought it would be an instant success, at least within my in-circle. Turns out, most of my friends haven’t subscribed to receive notifications on my blog. Many haven’t even given me a “like” on Facebook. When we hang out, it’s more than obvious they don’t read my posts. How’s that for a reality check?

What I’ve learned is that although friends and family can admire and support you doing what you love, they may not actually be interested in the product, at least not to the same degree as you. And that’s fine. I believe there are people who have a genuine interest in what I’m doing, and I am determined to reach out to them.

bubble tea night market vancouver

Now if only I could get people to get as excited about my blog as I was about this bubble tea…

4.     How long do you like to travel for? What’s been your longest trip?

I am constantly travelling, and my “trips” have many different durations. For example, there are many beautiful pueblos blancos (villages where all the buildings are painted white) close to where I live, and I often pop over just to have lunch and take some pictures. Other times I wait until I have a work holiday and will jet off to Lyon, France for a week. I have also done the Camino de Santiago, which was a backpacking journey that lasted 36 days. In the summer, I’ll go back home to Vancouver, Canada and spend a couple months there. The short answer is: the duration of my trip is however long I have! Time should never be a constraint.

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Zahara de los Atunes, Cadiz, Spain

camino shared meal

Enjoying a meal with my friends on the Camino de Santiago – this is what it’s all about!

5.     How do you strike a balance between work and travel? How do manage to fund your travels?

As a part-time English teacher, time is hardly an issue when it comes to traveling. I work afternoons Monday-Thursday, so I have three day weekends as far as the eye can see! In addition, I get all of the bank holidays off (there sure are a lot in Andalusia!) plus school holidays.

gibraltar monkey

Chatting with a Gibraltar local 😉

Despite the fact that I’m well paid for my time compared to normal Spanish salaries, my income is fairly modest. I also don’t get paid for summer months when the academy closes, so I have to keep that in mind if I don’t want to work at an English summer camp (bless all of you who do, I don’t have the stamina!). I am able to afford my trips by adopting a minimalist lifestyle. I rarely buy clothes, cosmetics or other items for the sake of having them. Not only is this better for the environment and takes a stance against consumerism, it’s a lot easier to get up and move on to the next destination if you have nomadic tendencies like yours truly!

mallorca pastries

Weekend trip to Mallorca and learning how to make pastries with these locals!

6.     In your opinion, which is the best countryside destination in the world?

To be completely honest, I’m a city girl, and most of my trips have been to cities. However, I absolutely love visiting the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s surrounded by mountains and has the most gorgeous lakes. Europeans may be surprised that you can find some of the best wine ever there, and oh my god the FRUIT! Amazing. It’s a great area to for hikes and check out the wildlife, just watch out for rattlesnakes! My friend Sam has some amazing hiking recommendations in this area on her blog, Explore the Map that you should definitely check out.

penticton mountain goats british columbia

The mountain goats I snapped in Penticton, BC.

7.     How do you travel? Solo, with a partner, friends or with family?

After completing a degree which attracts internationally-minded people and having lived in 3 different countries over the past 5 years, I am lucky to have met people from all over the globe. I now choose my travel destinations based on who I know and where they’re living. It emboldens me to open my mind to towns or cities off the classic list like Paris, London, Rome (which are all still awesome, mind you). Why not Sighet in Hungary? Saint Amand Tallende in France?  Not only does this allow me to visit an old friend, it provides me with a local tour guide and sometimes even free accommodation! So essentially I travel solo, while freeloading off my pals. Just kidding, I’m a good guest and always take them out or cook them up some delicious vegetarian food!

paris eiffel tower couchsurfing

Under the Eiffel Tower with my friend, Arthur.

budapest couchsurfing

Overlooking Budapest with Zsani.

8.     Have you ever taken up a course / class like wine tasting, cheese making, photography, dance class etc. while traveling?

I did a wine tasting at the Chateauneuf du Pape winery in the Rhone Alpes region of France while I was studying in Lyon. Alas, at 20 years old on a student tour, I spent more time getting excited about being able to drink really expensive wine than savouring and trying to understand its intricacies.

9.     Which has been your favourite travel destination till date?

Yikes! It’s like having to choose my favourite child! I have such fond memories of my exchange in Lyon and picnicking in Le Parc de la Tête d’Or and rowing on the lake. I was stunned by the gorgeous gothic buildings of Edinburgh against the green rolling hills. And Berlin! The coolest city I have ever been to. You can’t make me choose! You can’t!

 

A windy day at Edinburgh Castle.

A windy day at Edinburgh Castle.

berlin gate

At the Berlin Gate.

10.    If you could change one thing about the way you travel, what would it be and why?

I am quite careless with my things, and ironically I’m the worst with misplacing my passport. The night before my trip I am always flipping my apartment upside down looking for it. It’s a nightmare, and it should be a simple correction to make… yet I never learn.

Thank you so much Maria for helping me to reflect on the reasons for why I blog!

Have you got a blog? What keeps you motivated to keep it up?

Arte y Sabor: Spanish fusion food in Seville

It’s a really strange day for all of us after the US election results were revealed last night. I notice a lot of people are expressing disbelief and fear on social media, many declaring that they will leave the USA. I am not an American, and I have no intention for this website to get political, but I do want to say a few words. I encourage everyone to travel, to see other cultures, to experience life in a different way, broaden your horizons and all that beautiful shit, BUT PLEASE don’t do it to escape. NEWSFLASH, this phenomenon of anti-establishment voting and xenophobia is being felt in many Western countries. (Remember Brexit? Look at Greece and France too!)  No matter how or whether or not you voted in this election, it’s our responsibility as citizens of ALL COUNTRIES to protect the vulnerable and stand up for our rights. Do not let fear defeat you, let it motivate you.

Posted last night on my instagram.

Posted last night on my instagram.

Now that’s off my chest, I’m not gonna lie, you may want to escape temporarily for a quick vacation to close your eyes to the chaos. Well, last weekend I was in Seville and went to a favourite restaurant of mine that I think you should visit too, Arte y Sabor!

arte-y-sabor-instagram

Credit to Arte y Sabor instagram

Arte y Sabor is a vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant nestled in the Alameda de Hercules in the city centre. In order to appeal to Spanish locals who are slow convincing to join the veggie game, it offers meat and fish dishes, but almost everything on the menu has a veggie option. It tips its hat to classic Spanish cuisine while incorporating flavours from other parts of the world. The atmosphere of the restaurant is artsy, yet simple and unpresumptuous, and their sharing plates follow suit with fair prices. I almost always stop here for a tapa when in Seville, and I think you’ll understand why when you see the pictures!

olives-and-canas

In true Spanish style, we were served complimentary olives to whet our palate. I love the aceitunas here as they are coated in parsley and cumin seeds, a small ode to the head chef’s birthplace, Morocco. I thought they were a bit stingier on the quantity than past visits, so they were devoured pretty quick.

What we ordered:

Croquetas caseras de espinacas con salsa de ajo blanco (Homemade spinach croquettes served with ajo blanco sauce – vegan)

spinach-croquettes-with-ajo-blanco-sauce-2
Croquettes are usually made with lots of butter and milk, so I was really surprised at how creamy the vegan version was. I don’t usually like cream sauces paired with fried foods, but as ajo blanco sauce is made from almonds, bread, garlic, oil and water, it didn’t seem heavy and added a nice additional flavour.

Salteado de setas al Pedro Ximenez (Sautéed Wild Mushrooms in Sweet Sherry Wine – vegan)

salteada-de-setas
On the menu this dish is usually served with foie, but we got the vegan option without. The medley of mushrooms was tasty paired with grainy bread, and the sweet Pedro Ximenez crema balanced out the dish rather well. I do think this would be very easy to replicate at home though, so maybe try ordering one of their other options and wait for my copycat recipe which will come out soon!

Timbal vegetariano  de queso granulado, almendras, cebolla y berenjena  sobre salsa de tomate (Vegetarian Timbale made with ricotta, almonds, onion and eggplant on top tomato sauce)

timbal-cheesy-goodness
As much as I’d have liked to try to make this a vegan day, we simply couldn’t resist ordering one cheesy dish. No regrets! Layers of eggplant sandwiching warm ricotta cheese and torched mozzarella on top swimming in a tomato sauce that was the perfect balance of sweet and acid. The little almond slivers gave a surprising crunchy element to the dish.

The total for this meal along with 4 small beers came to about 25 euros, split between two people. I totally recommend Arte y Sabor for vegans, vegetarians and the omnivorous among you looking for Spanish fusion food.

Other plates not pictured that I recommend (not pictured):

  • Ensalada de champiñones con queso gorgonzola (Mushroom salad with blue cheese)
  • Crema de coliflor (Cauliflower soup)

What are your favourite Spanish fusion dishes? Where is a restaurant that you always go back to? Let me know in the comments!

Information:
Website ۰ Facebook ۰ Instagram

Alameda de Hércules, 85, 41002. SEVILLA

8 Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans Abroad

Sometimes I can’t figure out why I decided to make the transition to vegetarianism in one of the most difficult places: the south of Spain. Here in Andalusia, ham legs hang from the ceilings of bars. Cafés display televised bullfights to enjoy with your afternoon coffee. Some villages actually have animals in their names because they eat so much of them.

Zahara de los Atunes : A beautiful village, but famous for tuna dishes, rather than vegetarian food.

Zahara de los Atunes: as famous for its tuna dishes as for its beauty.

Suffice to say, it’s not easy, but it sure isn’t impossible to be vegetarian in Spain. Below are my 8 tips for those who want to maintain  or transition to a veggie lifestyle in a carnivorous country.

1. Check out local markets

Mercado de los Abastos, Jerez de la Frontera

Mercado Central de Abastos, Jerez de la Frontera

Local fruit and vegetable markets are by far the best way to find cheap, high quality produce. You’ll spend half of what you would in the supermarkets, and you’re also supporting local businesses. It can be a little intimidating at first, especially if you don’t know the language, but what better way to get a crash course?The markets are crowded, and if you are in a place like Jerez, you’ll have to be pretty assertive or you might find yourself elbowed out of the way by an aggressive abuela (grandma). That being said, the vendors are generally really friendly, and they’ll often gift you a few extra pieces of fruit for loyalty.

Una gitana (gypsy) selling spices, nuts and veg outside the market.

Una gitana (gypsy) selling spices, nuts and veg outside the market.

2. Look up your local food coops and farms

Local produce market from a local organic farm. Picture taken from La Reverde's website.

Local produce market from a local organic farm. Picture taken from La Reverde’s website.

A gem that I found while living in Jerez is the La Reverde farm cooperative that dedicates itself to the production and consumption of local organic and artisan products. These types of organizations naturally draw in vegetarians, vegans and the veggie-curious, which is great for expanding your social network with like-minded people. A bonus is that these coops usually offer educational workshops with themes that vary from healthy eating to artisanal beer tasting.

A delivery of mixed veg from La Reverde

A delivery of mixed veg from La Reverde

3. Shop around

I do most of my shopping in the market, but there are some products you need to go elsewhere for, especially if you would like to indulge in plant-basted meats. Try visiting different supermarkets to find the products you’re looking for. In city centres, supermarkets tend to be smaller, so try once a month to go to one a little outside which will have more options for seitan, tempeh and tofu. Always make sure to check out the international section for ingredients to make your homemade meals more interesting.

A little organic products store in Jerez de la Frontera

A little organic store in Jerez de la Frontera

Most towns will have an organic food shop, which often promote vegetarian events and activities. I tend to only buy health foods that I can’t find anywhere else, because they tend to be pricey in these types of shops. Lastly, Amazon’s supermarket section is amazing – I get so many vegan essentials like nutritional yeast, coconut oil and miso for cheap, without even leaving the house!

4. Use travel apps

the-happy-cow

The Happy Cow app and website is great to find veggie restaurants while traveling. It will let you find veg-friendly restaurants even in the smallest villages. If you’re with a persistant meat-eater, it also lets you know what options there are for you based on your diet. I find that it’s more up-to-date than other vegetarian apps out there, and the layout is very user-friendly.

5. Research local vegetarian/vegan dishes

I would dare to say that every country has a typical vegetarian dish. Remember, meat and animal products were luxury items to poorer populations back in the day, and so there is bound to be a staple peasant-style meal anywhere you go. It may not be the most fancy of dishes, but you will still get to indulge in the local cuisine when going out to restaurants.

Ajo caliente, a typical winter tapa in Jerez, which happens to be vegan! Picture courtesy of Cosas de Comé.

Ajo caliente, a typical winter tapa in Jerez, which happens to be vegan! Picture courtesy of Cosas de Comé.

6. Learn key phrases

Making the effort to learn a few phrases in the local language makes you a much more likeable traveller, especially when you are asking for special services. Unlike North America, Spain is not a service-oriented country; I’ve had sugar packets thrown at me when I asked for brown instead of white. Don’t waste your time learning the word for vegetarian or vegan – when you are in a carnivorous country, most of the time people don’t really understand what that means, and you almost certainly will end up with a surprise on your plate. Rather, learn the words of the things that you can’t eat. In order to be taken seriously, say that you can’t eat these things because of an allergy or a religious reason.

7. Stock your bag with snacks and condiments

Galician spices at El Mercado de los Abastos. A little baggie of one of these spices in your purse may save you from a bland vegan meal!

Galician spices at El Mercado de los Abastos. A little baggie of one of these spices in your purse may save you from a bland vegan meal!

This is a tip that I need to get better at, and it really is a lifesaver. When you haven’t eaten in a long time, combined with trying to find a restaurant that suits your needs, it’s very easy to get “Hangry” (a combination of hunger and anger). This is why it’s good to have energy bars or zip lock bags of snacks ready on hand. Another essential is to have packets of condiments like soy sauce or mustard in the case that the restaurant can only offer you a plain bowl of rice. Turns a terrible meal into perfectly average!

8. Get friends and locals involved

Couchsurfing potluck. Sorry for the quality, this photo predates my new camera!

Couchsurfing potluck. Sorry for the quality, this photo predates my new camera!

Host a vegan or veggie potluck at your place and invite your guests to get creative in the kitchen and bring a plant-based dish. Not only are you getting people curious about your lifestyle, but you’ll get to try a variety of food. I do this through Couchsurfing, which makes it even more interesting because people bring dishes from their home countries. Also, if you host, you get to keep the leftovers! Score!

What are your tips for being vegetarian or vegan in a meat lover’s country?

Brunch at The Acorn: Creative Vegetarian Food in Vancouver

While visiting family and friends in Vancouver, I’m enjoying some great vegetarian and vegan restaurants which are more difficult to find in Spain. After hearing about The Acorn on Main Street on a vlog by Lauren Toyota of hot for foodI stopped in for brunch with two of my best friends.

The Acorn boasts that “even the staunchest meat eaters leave fully satisfied”.  Mains run around $15 each, and for the artistic flair and creativity that goes into these dishes, it seems more than fair.

The Acorn on Main Street. Source: @Acornvancouver instagram

The Acorn on Main Street. Source: @Acornvancouver instagram

Our enthusiastic and friendly server immediately greeted us with complimentary sparkling water – the simple detail put a smile on our faces. Of course, brunch just wouldn’t be brunch without getting a little tipsy on generously boozy mimosas. The dried orange wedge that decorated the glass added a cute vintage touch.

vintage_mimosa_theacorn

Brunch is off to a great start with $4 mimosas!

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The first one.

It’s happening. The day is coming closer and closer. I’m freaking out.

I’m turning 25.

It’s pathetic, I know. I’m totally aware that I’m being melodramatic and oh so typical and reminiscent of those characters on HBO’s Girls. I never really believed that turning a quarter of a century would be such a milestone. I always rejected the “timeline” perspective towards life, and frankly thought that would shield me from experiencing any crises. Well, WRONG.

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