Vegetarian in the UK

It’s time for a FOOD post!!
One thing I can say I’m enjoying about the UK is the plethora of food options! Feel like Thai? No problem! Curry? Just go around the corner! Salad? Take your pick! Greasy, delicious deep-fried goodness to cure your hangover? Not to worry!
Yes, I am back in my element!
Check out my foodie finds!!
Edinburgh, Scotland
First of all, loads of the pubs in Edinburgh offer a vegetarian version of the classic Haggis, yay!
1.) So no need to go to Pub 1780; but, I really enjoyed theirs so I have to give them a shout-out! Check-out my post about veg-Haggis here.

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2. Hula Juice Bar
They offer fresh juice, smoothies, milkshakes, lattes and have soy milk! The menu clearly labels vegetarian and vegan options, too! I had a Moroccan chick-pea soup and a wrap for only £5.50!

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3. Baked Potato Shop
This isn’t a healthy option, but an affordable and filling one. It’s also completely vegetarian and clearly labels vegan options (including haggis!)
Try their haggis samosa!

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Also, check out my Facebook status after my visit:

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London, UK
4. inSpiral Lounge
This place is amazing! Located right beside the Camden Locks, overlooking the canal with plenty of seating and a kick-ass menu, inSpiral is exactly what I needed. I indulged in a raw mushroom burger, a side of steamed root vegetables and a raw carrot cake for dessert.

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The raw burger was well-seasoned and very filling. The steamed veggies were also yummy. The real winner was the carrot cake. Yummy! Not too sweet but definitely had the perfect texture: almost a mix between a cheesecake and a muffin. I’m drooling just thinking about it…I want to go back for some smoothie action. If I do, I’ll let you know 😉
5. Comptoir Libanais
Middle-eastern deliciousness at a great price! I was so full after my meal.

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You MUST get the fresh rose-mint tea!
For more on London check-out this post.
6. Ben’s Cookies! A sinful treat. The white-chocolate & cranberry cookie was amazing! (sorry no picture for this one)
7. I did not go here, but wanted to very badly! So, someone else check it out and let me know how it is! The Coach & Horses on Greek St. in Soho is vegetarian!
8. M & S Supermarkets
There were loads of vegetarian options, as well as a few vegan ones, for take-away! And, they’re always close-by to metro and train stations. Super convenient!
There was so much more I wanted to try but my wallet did not allow it. Next time!

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Haggis: Wordpress Failed Me

Sorry! I wrote a long post about Haggis and for some reason WordPress didn’t upload it with the rest of my post yesterday! Truth: writing a blog with your iPhone is easy but also very frustrating. It fails, a lot. … Continue reading

London in Photos

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Fact: London is HUGE Fact: English does not make it any easier Fact: London is really really expensive. Fact: I still love it. I’m too exhausted after walking the streets for 7+ hours to explain in detail what my day … Continue reading

Foodie Haven in Prague

Hey everyone!
I’m counting down the days: only 19 more to go before I’m back in Canada! And yes, despite all of the awesomeness that is Europe I am really looking forward to being back home; but more on that later!
FOOD!
I had done my research prior to coming here, so I knew that there were plenty of vegetarian options in the city. For instance, The Vegan Backpacker has a post from 2010 and it made me drool.
So what have I found?
First of all: PEANUT BUTTER! I literally eat PB everyday back home, so finding it was the highlight of my day! Also, in the large Tesco Supermarket they have soy-meat! Awesome! So, if you have access to a kitchen, cooking for yourself is really simple!
Anyways, back to the important bit.
Dhaba Beas

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Lucky for me this place is less than a minute walk from my hostel and it’s really affordable! I’ve spent less than 100 Czech koruna ($5 CAD) each visit, and I’m always in a food coma by the time I finish eating.

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Pictured above: some sort of bugler-wheat salad, cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, a samosa and some mango chutney (yummy!) and a sweet bread pudding. Obviously it’s an Indian restaurant, so curries and potatoes are plentiful. I’ve eaten here 3x already, not only because of the price, but because the options change, so it’s a surprise each visit! So far, Dhaba Beas is my favourite veg find: delicious, nutritious and affordable! Also, vegan items are clearly marked!

Country Life – Cafe and Store
I read about this place on Vegan Backpacker, and I was really excited to try it out! So, what did I think?

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Just like Dhaba Beas, Country Life is buffet style and you pay by weight. The options were plenty-a salad bar, a variety of hot dished including a vegetarian style goulash typical in Czech. There was also Pizza, lasagna and roasted potatoes with a spinach sauce. They also had many dessert options, but I was looking for the highly acclaimed Vegan Kokoska (look at this Vegan Backpacker post). But, no luck! There were cakes, but none really caught my eye.
I (stupidly) did not take a picture of my purchases but it was less than what I usually get from Dhana Beas. A cucumber-dill salad, some ‘tenderloin sauce with chick-peas’ and some potatoes with spinach sauce. Cost: 193 Czech Koruna – double the price of Dhaba Beas, and not worth it. The only reason I plan on returning is to look for the dessert!
The store was small but had a lot. But, unless you are staying a while or cooking for more than one, I think a $5 dinner from Dhaba Beas is a way better idea.

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*sidenote: Country Life is closed Saturdays*

Friend’s Coffee House
I have a ‘secret’ to share: I usually find hidden gems via the website Spotted by Locals. There is a version for many major European cities: London, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon (just to name a few).
I found a write-up for this cafe via this site.

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I had some fresh ginger tea with honey (so good) and treated myself to a home-made carrot cake. The cake was perfect: fluffy, cream-cheese icing in the middle and on the sides and soft raisins and pieces of walnuts to add a bit of crunch. It was fairy large, and it was the type of place I felt like I could sit for hours reading or writing. And, they have free wifi! I hope to return one more time: I just read on their site that they have a library and a food menu!

Globe Bookstore and Cafe
This isn’t really a hidden gem, as most English speaking expats in Prague surely know of its existence. It’s not just a cafe, but also a bookstore (English), bar and restaurant!
I stopped in to look for the third installment of Game of Thrones (no luck) and decided to stick around for some more ginger tea.
Their menu is extensive and includes many vegetarian and even vegan options! The staff are all English, and they also have happy-hour specials. It can get fairly busy, and the crowd is a mix of students, professionals and travelers. They play jazz in the background, and there is enough light to read, but it’s dim enough to have a feeling of intimacy. 45 Koruna for a tea isn’t the best, but given the atmosphere and the area I would definitely pay it again! And yes, I do plan on returning to nibble on some menu items, so stay tuned!

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Campanulla Cafe
When you head over the the John Lennon Wall, you’ll pass an adorable cafe.

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Had myself a ginger tea with lemon and honey, and because the staff was so very friendly I’m going to suggest that you stop in and do the same!

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Trdelnik is a typical pastry made by rolling dough around a stick, roasting it over a fire then rolling in while it’s still hot in sugar and walnut pieces.
I didn’t need to eat it, but the smell was too much to resist.

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The Food of Portugal

I am a foodie.
Initially I was confused as to how people gain weight while traveling. But, after Portugal, I now understand.
First of all, it is all about pastries in Portugal! Each region and each city seems to have a pastry that they are known for. Now, eating a treat now and then is okay, but as a traveler you have to eat a treat everyday, sometimes twice! Sure, some people would be okay if they didn’t try a Pastel de Nata from the famous Pastéis de Belém, but not me! Oh no, for me food is the culture of a country.

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So, I’ve compiled a list of my top five favourite meals/pastries I had in Portugal.
Top Favourite dishes in Portugal
1. Pastel de Nata (pictured above) specifically from Pastéis de Belém.
2. Acorda de Marisco
I had this at the restaurant down a few doors from ‘Super Mario’ (refer to the bottom of this post). I didn’t take a picture of my own meal, but what it is is a bread paste with garlic and coriander and shrimp and then they put a raw egg on top and mix it in the warm mixture. No, it doesn’t sound or look appetizing but I loved it! It is popular in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

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Image link
3. Nahnahbah – Veggie Burger
No, this isn’t a traditional Portuguese meal, but this particular restaurant is known for having a burger rated in the top 50 in the world.

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The Toucan Burger is it’s name and my fellow traveler’s all raved about the taste! But, if you are a vegetarian, their veggie burger is definitely in the top 10 for me. It tastes like a burger, which is perfect when you are trying to cure a hangover and prepare yourself for drinking again.
You can find Nahnahbah in Lagos.
4. Olives.
Seriously, the olives in Portugal are tastier than anywhere else! My advice: plan a picnic ( or 5) and buy olives, cheese some crackers/bread and fruit and you have yourself a meal! Top it off with a cheap bottle of regional wine and honestly with a great view you’ll remember it as your best meal in Portugal.

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5. Espresso
The coffee in Portugal is some of the best (and cheapest) in the world. Every cafe, no matter how small, has the best espresso equipment money can buy. Combine that with delicious beans and an old man who has been serving ‘bica’ for many generations and you will swear you’ve never had anything so satisfying. End a meal with an espresso or be a local and stop in at the many pastry shops and stand at the bar and enjoy a bica for only 60 cents.

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6. Roasted Chestnuts

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Yummy! For only 2 euro you can have a tasty dessert that even the locals eat!
7. Encharcada do Convento de Santa Clara

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Image link.
So sweet. So fattening. So delicious! Egg yolk and sugar.
8. Noori Sushi
Sherry showed me this gem during my last day! A small take-away or eat-in sushi place. I disliked the all-you-can-eat sushi, so I was happy to pay extra for good sushi. Also vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked! The vegetable tempura roll was AMAZING!
9. Lost In Restaurant
Amazing views, awesome food and delicious wine. This is a MUST! Check out this post for more info. Try the pumpkin butter, goat-cheese tartlets and the soup of the day.

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10. Nakite – Porto
My favourite meal, and possibly healthiest, was a tofu pizza from Nakite. Their menu looked awesome and their tea was also tasty. As a vegetarian I highly recommend this and the vegetarian restaurant in Guimaraes.

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How hungry are you right now? I’m starving!!

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Sunny days in Porto, Portugal

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After yesterday’s trip to Guimarães, I was feeling sore, tired and ultimately unmotivated to do another day trip from Porto. Instead, I opted to spend another day in Porto while the sun was shining. Weather really does make a difference … Continue reading

Day Trip: Guimarães, Portugal

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Before coming to Portugal, I knew little about the country. I knew it was beside Spain, that the language was Portuguese and that the capital was Lisbon. So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Portugal to discover that it … Continue reading

Rainy day in Porto, Portugal

I decided a while ago that I wanted to go to Porto. The TBU conference was held here this year, and after reading many positive reviews I knew I would probably love it.
Unfortunately, many people in Lisbon looked at me like I was crazy when I sai I wanted to spend 3 days there. ‘You’ll be bored after two’ was the common response.
I refused to be discouraged.
I took an evening train from Lisbon (30 euro, a bus is 19 euro and has wifi) and got into Porto around 10 o’clock. It was dark and it was raining. Considering I have seen very little rain so far during my trip, I was a bit disappointed. Then, I had a hard time figuring out the transit system.
I felt lost. I had also just left some of the most amazing friends in Lisbon, so I was feeling lonely. But, I refuse to have another massive cell-phone bill (read more about that here).
I found my way to The Spot Hostel in about an hour, but only after arriving at the quietest metro ever! I was petrified!

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I got a good nights rest, and woke up the next day determined to explore no matter what the weather.
First, I had to go buy shoes. I left my hikers in Lisbon as I only brought a small bag for this portion of my trip. Silly girl. That’s okay though, I needed to buy more regular looking shoes anyway. I ended up buying a 25 euro pair of casual sneakers, an 8 euro umbrella, and 5 pairs of socks for 7 euro. Not too bad!
Then, I headed to the famous Majestic Cafe on Rue Santa Catarina.

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It has been open since 1923, not having changed it’s interior since then. It was truly beautiful, and a nice break from the rain.
But, be warned, it is expensive! I had already been wandering around though, and needed a small bite too since the hostel served ham and cheese and bread for breakfast (fail!).
I decided to treat myself to an American style coffee and some scones with cream and jam. Healthy? Nope. But it was the least expensive thing on the menu.
Oh my, was it ever delicious. The scones were served hot, the jam came in a small glass jar, and the cream was so sweet. Heaven.

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After, I headed a street over to the Marcado do Bolhão. It was what I expected: butchers, fresh fish stands, fruits and veggies and flower shops.

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And then a pleasant surprise: a store selling vegan/vegetarian food! I have been pleasantly surprised in Portugal with all of the vegan alternatives and how readily available they are!

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Armed with my umbrella, new shoes and a full stomach, I headed back to the hostel to pick up Andy (met him at Gspot he came along to Porto). We decided to head out and explore and grab some food. Thankfully the rain let up so despite the lack of sun it was warm and we were dry.
We saw some sights and got lost in the smaller streets of Porto. We walked by a restaurant and the woman saw us looking at the menu and invited us in. She was so pleasant! I had bacalhaul braga and it was excellent! It doesn’t look like much much believe me it was yummy!

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For a glass of wine, my meal, some starter codfish thing (?) and a coffee I paid 8 euro! Not bad!
Next we just wandered down to the water front and took some photos. I wandered into a touristy port/olive shop and was very tempted to make a purchase! But I’m going to wait for the port tasting.

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So far, I’m really enjoying Porto. The weather obviously makes it a bit more difficult to enjoy it, but so far I love the alternativeness of it. It’s less touristy, and I’m excited to visit the rua Miguel Bombarda area! Art galleries, cafes and book stores!
For those of you who know Alberta at all, Lisbon is the Calgary of Portugal, while Porto is like Edmonton. I think Porto is best appreciated over time, when you’ve had a chance to find the quirky cafes and hidden gems.

Eating my way through Lisbon, Portugal

Heyo!
Well, I’m in love with Lisbon.
I know I fall in love with every city I visit, but this is the real deal! I’ve walked around tons (check out this post), and I’ve managed to see quite a bit.
But, more on all of the sites later!
First, I want to tell you about the food!
Traditional Portuguese Meal

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Bacalhau à Brás is a dish composed of shredded salted cod (bacalhau), onions and thinly chopped (matchstick sized) fried potatoes in a bound of scrambled eggs and garnished with black olives. Verdict: pretty good! My friend, who has eaten it before, said that it wasn’t the best, so I’m going to go out for cod again.

Above is buttered toast with a pumpkin jam. Oh-my-goodness! Delicious! The jam was sweet and spicy, similar to a chai tea. Yummy! We had this at a really cool spot: Lost In Esplanada. It had an awesome view, and really awesome decor.

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Looks awesome, eh?
Next we headed to the Noobai Cafe. This was tucked away beside an alternative viewpoint. We just had a cafe, but the menu looked delicious! Vegetarian options available.

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So far so good?
Now, are you ready!?
I found a store that sells VEGAN products! Woo!
It’s called Celeiro Dieta, and it is a chain in Lisbon (maybe Portugal?). I was so excited!

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Are you excited for me!? Faux-meat products, quinoa and chocolate soy milk!
It was right across from El Corte Ingles so I went there as well and surprise, they also have vegan products! I preferred the smaller store myself (they had a cafe too!), but it’s good to know that Ingles has some options too.

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PS–the terra chips in the photo above are so yummy! You can buy them in Canada 🙂
And there you have it! That’s been my food adventures so far! Today I’m off to Belem to try some of their famous pastry! Jealous? 😉