The first step to recovery is admittance … My name is Sophie and I ate fish in Cephalonia.
This summer has been one of the best. (Ignoring the upheaval from Dubai, where I was living in an empty apartment and attempting 45 degree sunbathing like a true mad Brit) It has been none stop socialising, flitting from place to place and turning my back on any responsibilities (no house, no job…. no problem!). This nomadic lifestyle has brought me face to fromage with food temptations.
Staring at a menu in a beautiful setting by the ocean in Cephalonia was my first crash off the vegan-wagon. I could lie and say there was only fish and meat on the menu, that I could have asked for the salad without feta, that I didn’t need the fifth cheese pie… but the first step to recovery is admittance. I hold my hands up. I ate a lot of feta and fish in Cephalonia.
Next was Madrid… meaty Madrid. The land of free tapas and beautifully cooked vegetables… covered in cheese. Everything was covered in cheese. I am proud to say that I resisted many tapas temptations and managed to dodge my way around most dairy deviants (apart from one spinach and cheese crepe where I threw caution to the wind after a gallon of Sangria).
Both adventures did leave me questioning my vegan ways. A big part of my love of travel has been to try the local food (and drink) to the utmost. Not turning anything down and never really questioning where it has come from. I began thinking maybe I could just be a vegan in the real world and not in the holiday world… It’s not really cheating if it’s in a different postcode, right? (Ha ha…)
But then came Amsterdam, which my cousin and I have now aptly renamed Amster-vegan. I know most people come back from boozy weekends in the Dam with stories of bananas and brothels. I however have tales of vegan junk food and nights in with tofu (along with the odd tumble off a bike).
A big help to being vegan on holiday is doing your research first (or making your cousin do this for you). Amsterdam was full of vegan treats, which could easily have been missed if relying on my usual ‘let’s wing it’ approach to life. The first night we enjoyed ‘100% plant-based chicken’ kebabs at a place called Donnies. I have always felt a bit dubious about fake meat but seitan (not Satan) may have persuaded me otherwise. The kebabs were delicious. So were the bottles of red wine.
The rest of the weekend followed suit with a ‘greens and grains’ bowl from Little Collins (with even better Bloody Marys), dirty & delicious vegan ‘cheese’ burgers from Vegan Junk Food Bar and beautiful summer rolls and Caesar salad from Meets restaurant.
All this eating out does have a tendency to burn a hole in your pocket so we enjoyed a few romantic meals in too. Cousins by candlelight – we sang along to 80s pop and ate fried tofu with greens invented by Julia Holmes. Then black bean quesadillas invented by me. See recipes below to create. I now feel re-inspired to get back in the kitchen and get cooking.
Summer is nearly over. My name is Sophie and I am well and truly back on the Vegan Venture.
Tofu with Greens for 2
- 250g tenderstem broccoli
- 1 handful frozen peas
- a generous amount of fresh spinach
- 250g firm tofu cut into strips
- 1 splash olive oil
For the marinade…
- 1 fresh chili finely chopped and deseeded (depending on preference)
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped or crushed
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped
- 3 generous glugs of light soy sauce
- a big glug of thick, dark soy sauce
What Julia did…
Marinate the strips of tofu for a couple of hours (watch a film accompanied by gin and tonics while you wait). Heat the olive oil in a pan for a few minutes and then add the tofu along with the marinade. Fry for 5 to 10 minutes. Shallow boil the peas and broccoli in a sealed pan for 8 minutes (or until the broccoli is slightly tender). Put big handfuls of fresh spinach into 2 bowls then divide out the greens and the tofu.
Pour the red wine. Light the candles. Enjoy.
Black Bean Quesadillas for 2
- 1 fresh chilli chopped finely and deseeded (depending on preference)
- 1 clove garlic chopped finely
- 2 Portobello mushrooms cut into slices
- 200g tinned black beans
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 lemon
- 3 large flour tortillas
- 1 lime
Fry the mushrooms with the garlic and chilli for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the black beans then smash roughly with a fork. Add the beans to the mushrooms and fry for a further few minutes. Add the juice of 1 lime and mix together.
Chop and mash the avocado in a small bowl and mix with the juice of 1 lemon. Divide and spread the avocado mixture along half of each flour tortilla. Divide and add the black beans and mushrooms on top of the avocado and fold the tortillas together, creating 3 folded semi-circles. Chop these semi-circles in half, creating 6 triangles of goodness.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat for a minute before frying the quesadilla triangles for a few minutes on each side. Ta daaaa!
Only to be eaten with wine and laughter