Vegan Barcelona!

Barcelona has gone vegan! I just visited the city for a few days to see the Punk exhibition at MACBA andIMG_9488 was really surprised at the huge choice there is for vegans now.

I arrived at lunchtime and stopped at a regular bar for tapas and had padrón peppers, patatas bravas (no mayo), garlic mushrooms and pan con tomate. The waiter wasn’t phased at all when I said I am a vegan, he was really helpful!

In the evening we went to one of Barcelona’s new veggie eateries El Maderal, a smart vegan tapas bar near Sagrada Familia. The menu has been designed by prestigious vegan chef Toni Rodríguez. They make a range of small and medium-sized fresh and creative tapas including lentil pate with flatbreads, broad beans with leeks and croutons, seitan burger with vegan cheese, patatas bravas and lots more. They also have over 100 different gins to choose from! Save room for dessert, they make a lovely apple cake as well as raspberry truffles which were even better than Booja Booja!

Enjoy Vegan is a small café in the gothic quarter of the city. They make fresh, home-cooked vegan food including a chick pea flour tortilla, salads and smoothies. Laid back and friendly, you help yourself to drinks from the fridge and tell them what you had when you pay.

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Chick pea tortilla

Then there’s Veggie Garden which is just off the top of the Ramblas near MACBA. This really is a gem of a place, you may have to wait for a table. They serve veggie and vegan Indian food as well as delicious fresh smoothies – with plenty to choose from I had zingy beetroot, carrot, orange and ginger (€5). You can have a thali or a burger and they do a set menu of three courses for just €8.50. You should try the Indian Nachos with Kathmandu sauce (€2.50). I only ate here once but will definitely go back next time I’m in Barcelona!

CatBar celebrated their seventh birthday this year and they are doing very well. In El Born district (a short walk from the Ramblas), they describe themselves as a small dark backstreet vegan craft beer bar, without AirCon, you won’t like it, especially if you expect a restaurant! We loved it – they serve great beer and a range of vegan burgers including a Mexican burger and a hemp burger which my friends described as the best vegan burger he had ever had! I opted for the Black Cat (bean) burger (€6.50) which comes in a bun with garlic veganaise, lettuce, tomato, onion, aubergine and caramelised onion – it was very tasty! The patatas bravas come with a range of mayos or pesto – you fill in an order form at your table and take your own order to the bar – so the timing is up to you. Dark and quirky with live music (piano and guitar the night we were there), I loved the Cat Bar. If you are not sure which beer to order, they will let you sample some. Friendly, dark and hot – this is not a restaurant but it is a fun place to eat with good friends.

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Black cat burger

A bit further afield in Sitges, a small town by the sea, southwest of Barcelona, we found Lady Green veggie restaurant. A small friendly and stylish restaurant offering several choices for vegans. I had the Thai Coconut Soup with Wakame and Tofu and my fella had the Zucchini (courgette) Spaghetti with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. Not cheap (both dishes were €9.00) but very tasty and a nice treat.

We saved the best until last. The Green Spot is a very stylish, fancy restaurant in Barcelona serving “Veggie for veggies and veggie for non-veggies”! A large, spacious restaurant with interesting interior architecture, this is a great place to bring meat-eaters and veggies alike. For starters we shared some Muhammara (red pepper dip with walnuts – really tasty and smooth), Edamame con chili (the best edamame I’ve ever had), Baba Ganoush and Kale crisps. Three of us had the Hemp and Cashew Cheese Pizza for mains and my fella had the Quesadilla which he said was very tasty but a bit small. For dessert, I had the Matcha Green Tea Panna Cotta. It was very tasty but it was more of a mousse than a panna cotta – no wobble! The Vegan Brownie and Carrot Cake with Cashew and Vanilla Frosting looked very good too. With a very nice bottle of Rioja, a beer and a soft drink, starters, main and dessert for four was just over €30 a head. For the atmosphere and quality I reckon that’s not bad for a special treat – which it really was as our naughty, generous friends treated us!

Sadly Juicy Jones is no longer in Barcelona but I can honestly say I was gobsmacked at the amount of choice and also at the quality of the vegan food on offer in a city where a few years ago a ‘vegetarian sandwich’ could well have arrived containing ham or tuna!

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Clorofil·la Cuina Vegetariana

Chips and salad please! Me, umm… chips and salad please. I’ll have a green salad with chips thanks… Oooh paella! sound familiar? That tends to be the way of things in Spain…

So, finding Clorofil·la Cuina Vegetariana was a delight. I ate there twice in three days! It’s easy to find, on a corner of the Plaça Conquesta in Mahón, the capital city of the island Minorca. It’s a small city and the restaurant is a short stroll from an ice-cream parlour called El Turronero (22 Carrer Nou) who serve chocolate and vanilla soya ice-cream! Times are changing eh?!

Clorofil is a large, airy and casual space with plenty of tables for two, four or six and one giant table for a big group. They serve organic and local food and provide a salad buffet every day. The menu is uncomplicated offering a range of veggie and vegan tapas or a set menu of two courses (9) or three courses (13.50). It’s a very good deal with five choices for first course, main course and dessert. With both options you are given a melon and watermelon appetiser as well as free bread and water (fizzy in a bottle if you want). All delicious and bloody bargain I reckon! I had the two-course option starting with a smoothie then the seitan burger and a chocolate brownie. I had organic ginger drink with my meal and a mint tea after it. The bill for two of us eating the same amount, was a little over 20. Last year that would have been about £15! Cheers you Brexit twats!

So we went back again to try the tapas… arriving nearly 30 minutes after they were supposed to close the kitchen for the afternoon (3.30pm) they very kindly agreed to let us eat there again – thanks!

We had Crispy aubergine with molasses (6.50), Homemade bravas with vegan aioli and spicy tomato sauce (€4.80), Saam marinated seitan with cashews, sesame and miso (€7), Tofu fingers with a homemade BBQ sauce (€8). We also had some bread with tomato (€2.60) and my fella had some courgette carpaccio (6.80). The aubergine was out of this world – even people who don’t like aubergine would like this! It was all amazing. With drinks the bill was a bit steeper at around €37 for two – given it was the best food I’ve ever had in Spain it was well worth it.

I liked Minorca and would happily go back, if I do, I’ll definitely visit Clorofil again.

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Pan Asia Bristol

Pan asia

Bristol has a new Pan Asian restaurant right on the edge of the centre, where Fabric Land used to be next to the wedding dress shop, the NCP car park and Holiday Inn. It’s not vegan, it’s not even veggie, but they have lots of tofu dishes. Make sure you tell them you are veggie/vegan as they use chicken stock in some dishes.

They are open for lunch and dinner. I went in the evening and for a starter, had Salt & Pepper Tofu (£5), deep fried tofu with diced onions and peppers toasted with five spice and fresh chillies. It was very tasty and there was lots of crispy tofu. For my main dish I had Stir fried Tofu with Green Peppers and Black Bean Sauce (£8), again it was very nice, a few black beans would have been good with the sauce. The peppers were cooked just right with a bit of bite still. We shared some Stir-fried Pak Choy with Garlic Sauce which was very nice but a bit steep at £7.50, althoguh they may have knocked a couple of quid of as we asked for it as a side dish. They gave us complimentary coffees which was very nice we shared a plate of banana fritters (£3.95) smothered in golden syrup.

The lunch menu is £7.95 for a starter and a main dish. You can choose from Miso Soup, Veggie Spring Roll or Salt & Pepper Tofu for a starter and Wok Fried Udon Noodles, Malaysian Curry with Tofu or Stir fried Tofu with Green Peppers and Black Bean Sauce for a main course. This is pretty good value I reckon.

The waiters are friendly, very polite and all very quietly spoken! I had to keep saying pardon as I’m a bit deaf. It’s a large venue and would be good for big parties. The downstairs loos are spotlessly clean (well it is all brand new) and it felt like I walked straight into the 1980s, Ashes to Ashes style, with the black, grey and silver shiny tiling. They are not doing cocktails yet but assured us that they will be doing them soon including a vegan piña colada with coconut cream. I’ll be back!

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Grilled Pinapple “the totally tropical taste”

There’s a cocktail called Dark ‘N’ Stormy which is apparently Bermuda’s national drink. It is served in a tall glass and made with dark rum and ginger beer served over ice with a slice of lime. This dessert, made by Erika, combines rum, ginger and lime with pineapple and chilli for an extra kick. It is definitely a holiday dessert with a taste of the Caribbean! You could cook it on a barbeque (no one takes pudding to a barbeque). You could take a pile of these either skewered with wooden sticks or individually wrap the marinated pineapple chunks in foil parcels and just throw them on the grill after the veggie sausages and Portabella mushrooms are done. Summer has finally arrived you can stuff your Lilt, this is the ‘totally tropical taste’ I’m interested in…

Serves 6

  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 tbsp agave syrup
  •  2 tbsps of rum
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 mild red chilli
  • Mint leaves to garnish
  1. Peel, core and chop the pineapple into long, chunky slices (you should get 12 slices from one medium pineapple).
  2. Marinade pineapple for at least one hour, then grill or griddle.

pineapple

 

 

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Tortilla Española

This year Viva! launched a new campaign inviting people to ‘Face Off’ the meat industry with a series of videos of undercover investigations. This one has touched a lot of hearts… www.viva.org.uk/faceoff/eggs.

Now we have the VeganEgg! I tried it for the first time yesterday and made scrambled egg – it’s brilliant! My Mum used to make Spanish omelettes for us when we were kids, traditionally Spanish omelette is made with eggs, onion and potato. She would throw in red peppers, peas and all sorts. Since I bought the new VeganEgg, I couldn’t wait to try this out. It works really well!

  • 1 medium potato, chopped into cubesIMG_8800
  • ½ an onion, chopped
  • ¼ red pepper, chopped
  • Small handful thyme
  • 2 tbs VeganEgg
  • 100ml ice cold water
  • Small handful of grated vegan cheese (Violife)
  • Olive oil
  1. Boil the potato for a few minutes until just beginning to soften
  2. Fry the potato, onion and red pepper with the herbs until beginning to colour
  3. Mix the VeganEgg and coldwater and whisk until smooth
  4. Combine the veg into the egg mix and stir then return to the pan, throw the cheese on top and continue to fry on a low heat (cover with a saucepan lid for a few minutes)
  5. When you think the bottom has cooked enough, place under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling
  6. Serve with plenty of freshly ground black pepperIMG_8768

 

 

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Vegan Egg OMFG

As if Aqua faba wasn’t enough, now there’s a vegan egg! Oh lordy, what next? It’s well over a decade since I ate an egg. I have to confess, chicken abortion comments aside, I was a fan. I never liked meat – all that gristle and tubes! However, I liked an egg butty with dollops of ketchup. Since discovering black salt (Kala namak) I’ve been making a pretty passable vegan egg mayo sarnie. Now this!

It’s a bit pricey – around £7 a box which contains the equivalent of 12 eggs. To make classic scrambled egg you add 115ml of ice-cold water to 2 tbsp of the Vegan egg powder and whisk with a balloon whisk. Then fry in a pan, scramble it about a bit for a few minutes then pile it upon hot toast. Voilà!

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It was the eggiest thing I’ve tasted in years in terms of texture, it tasted eggy too but you could add a bit more black salt if you want the real eggy pong.

So what is this alchemy? It’s made from algae! Very clever.

Spanish omelette next I reckon…

 

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Early summer salads

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Earlier this year I went to see a film called ‘Balls, Barriers and Bulldozers’ it was a documentary about the Easton Cowgirl’s football tour to the West Bank. After the film I bought some Palestinian Zaytoun olive oil from the little stall the Easton Cowboys had set up in the independent microplex cinema. It’s really tasty and a bit peppery. They gave me a free packet of Za’atar which is a middle eastern mix of toasted sesame seeds with thyme, sumac and salt. Inspired by a couple of recipes I pulled out of a magazine I made these two salads up but I wasn’t concentrating and got the dressing round the wrong way. (I actually think it works better this way). I blame it on the fact that I’ve been ill and just really wanted to eat spaghetti hoops.

Spelt, Avocado and Radish SaladIMG_8755

  • 200g Farro Dicocco spelt (Waitrose/Ocado)
  • 1-2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 8 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 6-7 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 re pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Splash of water
  • Toasted sliced almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  1. Heat some water in a small pan then add the spelt and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 mins until cooked.
  2. Drain the spelt and leave to cool.
  3. Chop/slice all the veg and combine with the spelt in a shallow bowl.
  4. Mix the tahini with the molasses, lemon juice and add a splash  of water if you need then pour it over the salad.
  5. Top with the toasted seeds/nuts.

Quinoa, Fennel and Carrot SaladIMG_8746

  • 100g white, black and red quinoa
  • 2 small carrots, sliced using a peeler
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp za’ater
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp (Palestinian) olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Small handful of fennel leaves
  1. Heat 360ml water in a small pan then add the quinoa and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 mins until cooked. The water should all be absorbed into the quinoa.
  2. Let the quioa cool for a few minutes then mix in the carrot, fennel and onions.
  3. Mix the za’atar with the lemon juice and olive oil and syrup and pour over the salad.
  4. Garnish with the fennel leaves.

 

 

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