Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eivissa

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.

San Antonio Bay

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.

Your average Curry

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.

More 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.

Cooking in the Apartment

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".

Vege-Burger Meal
Home Made Vegi-Burger and Chips

Dragon Bowl
Dragon Bowl (Disclaimer: No dragons went into the production of this meal)

Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce
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.

ABC Juice

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.

Nautically Themed Bar, Sant Vincent


Footnote: the island was Ibiza

4 comments:

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Oh thank GOODNESS you provided that disclaimer. I was very worried that you had become a Dragon-tarian.

I am always wary about going out to Indian restaurants because of the dairy worries. Sometimes it can be so much more comforting to eat at home! That way, you know without a doubt that what you're eating has no dairy.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Hahaha no, whole grain cream of wheat tastes good-- I promise ;o)

(Of course, if you didn't add anything to it, I agree it'd probably taste pretty yucky)

vegetablej said...

Really impressed with your inventiveness in making a homemade meal in your hotel. Bravo!

I've never been to Ibeza but your pictures make it look inviting. The colours in your first photo are wonderful- the caramel tiles against the blue water.

I agree that it's really hard to find vegetarian food if don't eat dairy and wheat. In Japan almost the only safe choice for eating out was Indian food, and I wasn't always quite sure whether it might contain a bit of ghee or yoghurt.

Being back in North America I expected more vegetarian choices, but outside the cities, unfortuantely, the menu seems to be meat, meat, and more meat. Even the TV ads are saturated with fast food meat.

Hope you _will_ start a vegan cafe someday; we can really use a few more.

:)

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Okay, if there were a Curry Club, I would totally want to join! Your sampling of Indian restaurants sounds like it was such a fun adventure, although you're a much more discriminating when it comes to curry than I am. I don't even know how to make a good curry! Arrg, don't you hate it when a waiter acts so cool when telling you something is vegan, and it turns out not to be?!? It's so frustrating, because sometimes they can really care less about us trying to avoid animal products... But if you had a serious allergy, that waiter would be in huge trouble if you got sick from the hidden dairy!!!

I wish I could improv like you too! Your homemade meal looks satisfying and delicious!

Oh oh oh you must try making tempeh yourself! To make delish tempeh, I just cut the 8oz block in half to make two blocks that are half the thickness of the original one...that way it absorbs the marinade better. Then you can cut into triangles or whatever makes you happy and steam it for awhile. I put mine in my electric rice cooker/steamer for 15 mins or so. Then marinate in 1-1/2 T of tamari and 1-1/2 T apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar for as long as you can (20 mins or each side works), then lightly coat both sides of the tempeh in arrowroot or cornstarch. Then you can fry them until golden in 3 T olive or coconut oil. Sooo wonderful!!! Serve them with lemon or lime wedges for squeezin' for extra yumminess.