Having to wake up at 2 in the morning, it hardly seemed worth going to bed at all. I was tempted to play computer games into the early hours of the morning, knowing that it would be the last opportunity for a whole fortnight, but a small part of my brain must've kicked in at around 10, overriding my sense of tiredness, and before long, I was fast asleep.
Fast forward 24 hours, and here we are, sat in an Indian restaurant in a different time zone. My first impression of the island was much the same as what I expected: shops selling beach gear, English pubs, and of course, lots of tourists. The whole metropolis seemed to have been built for the sole purpose of catering for travellers, but at that point, being catered for was exactly what we needed. No matter where you are in the world, you can almost always rely on Indian cuisine to feed a pack of hungry vegans, providing they A. Cook it themselves, and B. Understand what the hell you are talking about, and luckily the place we had stumbled across seemed to fit the bill.
This particular plate of food was nothing to write home about, (you may even wonder why I'm even writing about it at all...) But I managed to get a non-blurred photo of it, which is more than I can say for some of the others, which were mostly gobbled up so quickly that by time I thought about taking a photo, the empty plates had already been take away.
We sampled food in every Indian restaurant that we found (which oddly wasn't that many), although one of them we wish we hadn't. The scenario will be all too familiar to your average vegan. We arrived at the Curry Club, and were drawn in by the impressive garden that we would get to sit in. However when they bought out our food, my spider sense started to tingle. The bowl of insipid green sludge descended onto our table like a dark cloud, and after exchanging looks of suspicion, I began to probe the sorry excuse for a curry with my spoon. The consistency and appearance of pesto and its dubious aroma confirmed my suspicions, but it was too late for my parents, who had carelessly doled it out onto their plates. The waiter assured us that it was fine, but I knew from years of cooking experience that they would have had to work very hard to produce such food without the aid of an awful lot of dairy products. Needless to say, it ruined the meal.
After that, we tried several pizza restaurants out, and no one had a problem producing a cheese free pizza, but in general we tried to steer clear of gluten-filled dishes (Mum's preference). For lunch, it was mostly home-made sandwiches made from pumpernickel bread, rather than the freshly baked baguettes whose scent filled the air around the local grocery shops. Not that I minded - I love the taste of rye bread, providing that the rye flavour hasn't been usurped by caraway seeds.
Out of all the restaurants we had stumbled across that could make a worthy meal for us, not many were left once bread-based foods were removed from the equation. In fact, it pretty much just left curry.
So for a bit of a change, I made a meal back in the apartment. Creating a meal out of nothing was indeed quite a feat, as there was no oil to fry in, no condiments (save a couple of sachets of black pepper saved from a previous holiday), and no herbs. Improvisation was on the menu.
Amazingly it turned out to be quite tasty indeed! I managed to fry up some onions in enough crushed garlic to sink a city full of vampires, threw in some courgettes, a red bell pepper, some unduly expensive mushrooms, and a jar of some unidentified precooked white beans, and simmered the whole lot in some tomato juice. I even managed a side-dish of fried tofu pieces, as I had previously found some plain firm tofu on sale, which I had pressed dry, and then marinated in the juice from a jar of artichokes, some wild rosemary and more garlic.
On our last day, we found the most amazing town, called Sant Joan, which for some reason had been populated by an unusual amount of German hippies. A good handful of vegan-friendly restaurants and shops had sprung up here, which was a very welcome sight! I bought myself a cute little almond macaroon from one place, a nice treat, but the best place was called ECO, which from the outside looked like any other shop, but inside, was a little health food store, and hidden in the back, a restaurant called "ACT".
Home Made Vegi-Burger and Chips
Dragon Bowl (Disclaimer: No dragons went into the production of this meal)
Thai Style Rice Noodles - Tofu, Peanuts and Coriander Phad Thai
Excitedly we took up positions and put in our orders from the friendly German guy with impressively long dreadlocks. We each opted for something different, and it took the chef guy a while to sort them all out (we could see him slaving away in the kitchen!), but when the food came, we were all pretty impressed! My choice was the Thai noodles, which was really rich and filling, with a nice crunch from all of the various sprouts (the lemon wedge was quite welcome, to even out the sweetness of the dish). Not much to say for the Vegi-Burger, but the Dragon Bowl from their specials menu was delicious! Jasmine rice, with a coconut curry, loads of fried tofu, and even more tempeh!! (I've never seen anywhere that had tempeh on the menu!), and a healthy dose of sprouts/raw veg on top.
On top of all that, we managed to fit in a glass of "ABC" juice: A smoothie made from apple, beetroot and carrots, with a bit of raw ginger thrown in as well.
All in all, the island surpassed my expectations. Yeah, it had its fair share of drunk English tourists, and it had a good deal of characterless Wimpy Bar style bars with plastic furniture, but on the whole, all of that was localised to one area. Most of the other towns were typically Spanish, where we found a lot of culture, with local crafts such as basket weaving and pottery still being practised. I was even inspired to one day retire from the world of computers, and start up my own vegan café there, as there was definitely a gap in the market.
Footnote: the island was Ibiza