Monday, December 22, 2008

Work Christmas Party

The Christmas Party is something to be enjoyed or endured by the whole of the working class. It could be a quick beer down the local with a couple of colleagues, or it could be a fancy 5 course meal in the most expensive restaurant in town. Whether you look forward to this annual occasion, or dread it, it will inevitably come crashing down on you like a ton of elves around this time of year.

For me, the menu is usually the biggest worry, as there is rarely anything even remotely vegan on it. And I've heard some truly horrific stories about how badly a Christmas meals can turn out if you aren't careful.

So it came as quite a relief when I was asked to email the chef with exactly wanted. I had to think long and hard about this, as I wanted to get the most exciting meal possible, without pushing the boundaries so far that the chef decided that a salad would be easier. Its like trying to pick your lowest price when trying to barter.

I don't think I was adventurous as I could've been. I chose a rocket salad for starter, stuffed aubergine for main, and I left the dessert option to the chef's imagination, forwarding on my favourite blog as reference to some awesome desserts that would've been great. Turns out his imagination wasn't as far reaching as mine, and I ended up with the ubiquitous fruit salad.

Rocket Salad
Stuffed Aubergine
Fruit Salad

All in all though, the chef did very well, and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to create my own personal menu. And after a sufficient amount of drinking and gambling, and a fair few chocolate truffles that I'd brought along, the fruit salad had been forgotten.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Continuing on with the Eastern European exploration, my latest adventure was to the capital of Hungary. There is something charming with these countries that is hard to quantify, but always leaves me with a thirst for more. Maybe I've gotten used to going to all the touristy areas with my parents, but it feels refreshing to being in a place where you feel like you are walking amongst "their" world, rather than a world that has been retrofitted for tourists.

Okay so Budapest has its fair share of tourist shops selling a plethora of scarfs, Russian dolls, magical boxes and bottles of the local beverages, but on the whole, most of the restaurants, pubs and parks seem to be tailored for and used by the locals. Which is what I want when I'm on holiday - I want to have my beer in an authentic Hungarian cellar bar, not an English bar!

Authentic Cellar Bar

And conveniently, such a bar was right on our doorstep, which is where we ended up on quite a few occasions! Ever since returning from Prague I've been longing to having more of the Bavarian style dark lager, and Hungary certainly didn't disappoint. And to my delight, this delicious malty drink was served in whopping one litre Maßkrüge glasses.

Maßkrug and signs of Palinka

Traditionally, Hungary is perhaps the least vegan friendly city imaginable, and it really was a struggle to find something to eat in a regular restaurant. I had come prepared with a piece of paper describing exactly what I could and couldn't eat, in Hungarian, and it helped to drive the point home. However, I wouldn't stake my life on everything I ate being entirely suitable for vegans. Good thing I'm not allergic to anything.

Food at Regular Restaurant

Luckily the abundance of tearooms made up for the lack of restaurants, I think I must've drank my body weight in tea! And there were a few vegan restaurants that I got to try during our stay, Darshan Biopont being the most memorable, where I had a sampled some extremely delicious cake!


So, I will now reveal what my new toy was: A camera! My purple friend was actually "Pain" from Hercules, but I've had him for years - he was simply modelling for me. So I've finally managed to get my hands on an awesome photo-taking machine in time for this holiday, allowing me to take much better photos than my mobile phone would allow. I just have to learn how to use it now!

The Danube at Night
The Danube at Night
The Danube at Night