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Category: travel tips

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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Exploring Cannon Beach (+ vegan ceviche recipe!)

Summer has hit Jerez hard, and as I am preparing to move at the end of the month, I haven’t been on any trips in a while in the attempt to save money. True, I could be spending time at the beach, but this pale girl can only stand so much sun.
Confession: I am no longer a food/travel blogger, but more like a “vegging-out-on-the-couch-with-the-air-con-on-blast-and-still-dying-from-the-heat” blogger. Is that a thing? No, it’s not, and it shouldn’t be, nobody wants to read that. So I’ve wandered back into the kitchen, trying to concoct recipes that don’t require turning on the stove or oven.

 

Also while in self-imposed prison, I peruse blogs with authors who are able to venture outside, like Sam from Explore the Map. She challenged me to make a dish inspired by her hike along Cannon Beach in Oregon, which she shares with us today. What better opportunity to make a vegan version of the summer favourite, ceviche?
As an exclusively vegetarian chef, it was important that I get creative, since fish is the main ingredient. Humming and hawing over what I could use, I finally came across a vegetable able to imitate the texture of our underwater friends: Hearts of palm!

Hearts of palm - a ex-fish lover's secret ingredient!

Hearts of palm – a ex-fish lover’s secret ingredient!

This mysterious ingredient is harvested from the core of certain species of palm trees. It’s fairly inexpensive and can be found in the preserved vegetable section of any grocery store.

The ingredients for this dish are simple, and you will be shocked at how similar it is to the real thing! But first to work up your appetite, Sam recounts her beach walk along Cannon Beach.

Exploring the Oregon Coast: Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

The smell of the ocean washes over us as we dig our toes into the soft sand, letting the waves break over our feet. We sink slowly into the earth, one wave at a time. The sun is high overhead and beats down relentlessly, threatening to burn our exposed feet. We meander towards the towering silhouette of Haystack Rock and enjoy the fresh, salty beach air.

The iconic shape of Haystack Rock is hard to miss. It rises 235 feet above the sandy ocean floor and dominates the landscape. It’s a mere 2.4km south of the seaside town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, which makes it an easy adventure. At low tide, visitors can walk up to the base and explore the colourful tidepools where fascinating ocean creatures live. Nothing can be moved or climbed on within 300 yards of the base because the area is protected under the Marine Garden and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This is strictly enforced because it can take years for the delicate sea life to recover if damaged.

Haystack Rock looms eerily in the fog.

Haystack Rock looms eerily in the fog.

The birds of Haystack Rock

In addition to the wide variety of sea life, Haystack Rock plays home to many birds during the summer.

From early spring to mid-summer, Tufted Puffins burrow tunnels in the soil of the north slope for their eggs. According to CannonBeach.org, these puffins “are squat, black birds with large, bright orange bills, white facial features and tufts of yellow feathers above [their] eyes”.  As one of the most colourful birds that nest on Haystack Rock, they are popular among birdwatchers.

Pelagic Cormorants, a lanky, greenish-black bird, builds nests of seaweed on the precarious narrow shelves above the waves and are often seen with their wings outstretched, diving for fish. The Pigeon Guillemot, a white-winged, orange-footed bird,  is a minority on Haystack Rock and nests only three to ten meters above the waves and is extremely sensitive to humans. Seagulls, Black Oystercatchers, Harlequin Ducks, and occasionally Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons can also be spotted on Haystack Rock.

Tufted Puffins at Haystack Rock. Photo credit: CannonBeach.org

Falling in love with Cannon Beach & Haystack Rock

The road into Cannon Beach snakes off Highway 101 and winds its way through the rich forest before quietly entering the town. The streets are lined with cute, white picket homes and quaint, sea-inspired shops. It’s the quintessential beach town. We roll down our windows and let the salty air wash over us, welcoming us to this beautiful town.

We find free parking, but as we step out of our warm car we’re unexpectedly bombarded by a chilly downpour. Jumping back into our car, we watch the rain run down our windshield. Like many ocean communities, the rain quickly dissipates and a stunning, blue sky reveals itself. We wander the streets, gazing in awe at the pastel houses and peeking into the cute shops, wishing dearly that we could live here.

Haystack Rock.

We enjoy the wide expanse of Cannon Beach as we wander towards Haystack Rock, 2.4 km in the distance.

Exploring the beach

After dropping our newest finds off in our car, we wander to Whale Park where a small gazebo and whale statue commemorate this as the southernmost point visited by Lewis & Clark in 1806. The Park offers a great view of the Pacific Ocean and Ecola Creek as it becomes one with the ocean. Families and seagulls play in the Creek where the gentle waves of the ocean won’t disturb them. Located on the northernmost point of Cannon Beach, we cannot yet see the towering pillar of Haystack Rock as we descend to the beach.

It only takes a few moments of sinking in the soft sand before we remove our shoes. The sand becomes compact, almost spongy, as we near the water. We watch bubbles of air escape as waves roll over the sand, sometimes exposing tiny crabs. The sky disappears into the distance, meeting with the ocean and wispy clouds miles away. White-capped waves break along the beach and we stand in their wake, enjoying the cool water as it washes over our feet. The beach is full of people, yet my usual anxiety and itch to leave doesn’t overwhelm me; Cannon Beach is large enough to give the illusion of serenity despite the crowds.

Even on sunny, crowded  days it’s possible to find tranquility at Haystack Rock.

Even on sunny, crowded  days it’s possible to find tranquility at Haystack Rock.

Reaching Haystack Rock

The sun glistens overhead but the gentle breeze deceptively cools us and we’re soon red from head to foot. What starts as a small nub on the horizon quickly gathers mass and becomes the towering Haystack Rock, the sea stack we drove over 1,000 kilometers to see. The tide is in, so instead of exploring the hidden tide pools we settle onto a driftwood log. We watch tiny birds circle the monolith and spot members of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program, a volunteer program that educates the public on the sensitivity of the landmark, talking to people.

Haystack Rock’s creation

Looking at Haystack Rock and the adjacent formations, the Needles, we try to imagine how the landscape has changed. Roughly 16 million years ago some of the world’s largest lava flows ran rampant through the area, forever changing the terrain. When it eventually reached the ocean and cooled, the lava solidified into thick basalt and sat buried for years. The basalt gradually exposed  itself due to tectonic plate shifts and millions of years of erosion. This slowly created the jagged, rocky coastline that Oregon is famous for.

Information & Trailhead Location

There are many entrances to the beach throughout Cannon Beach, but our favourite is through Whale Park.  This way you can enjoy a beautiful walk down the beach before coming to Haystack Rock.  

Distance: ~ 5km (3 miles)

Duration: 1-2 hrs

Difficulty: Easy

Notes: Cannon Beach is a beautiful walk and if you visit at low tide you can explore the colourful tide pools at the base of Haystack Rock. However, it’s strictly prohibited to walk on, touch, and remove anything within 300 meters of the base. Once you’ve explored the beach, wander through the seaside town of Cannon Beach!

Recipe Time!

simple ingredients for vegan ceviche

Simple ingredients make for some powerful flavours in this ceviche!

I’ll admit, because I’ve been cooking for a while, I tend to complicate my life with a shit load of spices and ingredients in my recipes. Well the lazy summer days have hit, and I’m no longer about that. This recipe will take you 10 minutes to put together – no muss, no fuss! Throw the chopped up ingredients together, squirt over a bit of lime and chill in the fridge. Serve with a chilled beer or a frozen margarita and you are good to go!

Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro

Print Recipe
Vegan Ceviche
This ceviche is colourful and oh so flavourful and you'll be shocked to find that it's completely vegan! Red onion, chili peppers, avocado and a twist of lime bring those familiar mexican flavours and textures to the secret non-fishy ingredient - hearts of palm! Best served cold and with your favourite tortilla chips, and perhaps a frozen margarita!
Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro
Course Appetizer, lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Appetizer, lunch
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Vegan ceviche made with hearts of palm, courgette, red onion, chilli, avocado, lime and cilantro
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse the hearts of palm. Dice them up into small rounds.
  2. Peel the zucchinis and chop into small cubes. Do the same with the avocado.
  3. Finely chop your red onion and chilli pepper. If you don't like a lot of heat, remove the seeds first. Roughly chop the cilantro.
  4. Add all of the prepared ingredients into a mixing bowl or large tupperware. Add zest and squeeze in the juice of two limes. Carefully mix together. You can add salt if you wish, but as the hearts of palm are quite salty, this may not be necessary.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight so that the flavours can intensify. Serve with tortilla chips and a cold beer or margarita!
Share this Recipe

A big thanks to Sam for collaborating with me on this post! Check out her post about Mt St Helens where I also contributed a molten nutella lava cookie!

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 ?❤

A post shared by Alexandra Ogden (@theglobetrottercookbook) on


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?