Saturday, 17 October 2009

Bratislava & Budapest

I feel the need to preface this post with an apology, I've been a terrible blogger, real life has gotten in the way of writing and it's been almost 3 months! Ridiculous! I've got loads of stuff I want to blog about and as promised here's my long overdue Bratislava & Budapest post.

I couldn't be in Vienna and not make a couple of trips to the neighbouring countries, there are a lot to choose from but we decided on Slovakia and Hungary.

Bratislava's only an hour away by train from Vienna, as you can tell I was quite excited by the trip!


Once we arrived at the station and stored our bags there we headed into the city to eat at City Restaurant. I'm not sure exactly what we ended up eating as none of us could read the menu but thanks to the English speaking lady in front of us is the queue and my trusty vegan passport we managed to find something to eat!


This bean, pea and seitan stew with rice was pretty good and it was great to have a healthy side salad as I'd been eating loads of fake meats and junk food.

We also got the fruit salad for dessert, it was nothing to write home about as most of the fruit was from a can but again it was good to be eating something remotely healthy.


After a day of sightseeing we stopped off at this health food store to load up on goodies for the train journey to Budapest. L-R Melanie, Luciana, Bazu, Rachel & Carmen


Unfortunately Melanie and Rachel had to head back to Vienna but the rest of us bought A LOT of food for our awesome train picnic...


...there were fake meat spreads, pate's, crackers, bread, fruit, flapjacks, chocolate covered rice cakes and the tasteless but incredibly moreish wheat crisps. It was a 4 hour journey to Budapest and I think we ate pretty much the whole way there!

On our first day in Budapest we headed out to explore the city on foot, we saw Parliament and walked around the old town. We had to climb a lot of steps to get to the top of buda castle but the view was totally worth it.

We were starving after all that and went all the way back down the hill to Eden Vegetarianus, a buffet style cafe with an all vegan menu.


I filled my plate up with a bit of everything...that's everything that had carbs in it apparently!


As always what with us not being able to translate the menu I'm not exactly sure what I was eating, there was a nutty pasta dish, roasted potatoes and a creamy potato casserole. It was all delicious and I especially enjoyed the nutty pasta.

That night we went for dinner at Napfenyes Etterem, quite a fancy restaurant specialising in traditional Hungarian foods, seitan dishes and amazing regional desserts. With menus both in Hungarian and English we were able to know what we were ordering for the first time on the trip!

Obviously this is not traditionally Hungarian but you can't get vegan cheese pizza in the UK so I went for the 3 cheese pizza with seitan and olives...


...this was not only as huge as it looks but even more delicious. The seitan was amazing and the combination of that with the 3 cheeses & olives couldn't have worked better.

The desserts certainly lived up to expectations too...


...not only were they beautiful to look at but they were delicious! The cake in the foreground with the pink icing was a chocolate and black cherry gateaux, it had a strong cherry flavour and a beautiful gooey texture, behind that was a piece of chocolate cake, also lightly flavoured with cherry which is a Hungarian speciality. There was a chestnut cake too which was rich and moist but I unfortunately didn't get a decent photo of it.

On our last day we visited some Hungarian baths, there are no pictures of this a somewhere wet and steamy isn't the best place for a camera but given that this was October we were amazed to find ourselves swimming in a gorgeous outdoor pool.

After a long morning of sun and feeling faint due to the heat I was starving and borderline grumpy so I was very happy to end up at Le-Bar a tiny vegan & organic juice bar in the centre of the city with very few seats but pretty decent and filling food, as always I went for a big plate of everything...



The falafel wasn't great and the potatoes were a little on the spicy side for me but I really enjoyed the Israeli couscous salad.

Right next to Le-Bar is a great little health food store called Bio ABC where we got some truly awesome ice creams that were a lot like a Magnum and a little like the Swedish Glace ice creams you can get in the UK.

For the 3 1/2 hour train journey back to Vienna we picked up yet more snacks, awesome cracker style crisps, yummy juice and a not so awesome fruit salad.


On our arrival back in Vienna Carmen's awesome husband had cooked us dinner and they'd both stocked up the freezer with some of Vienna's best vegan Ice Cream because they knew the store would be closed for winter by the time we arrived.


This was my absolute favourite, I used to love pistachio ice cream as a child and hadn't ever found a vegan version but this was exactly as I remembered. It came paired with an almond ice cream which was equally delicious. There were also little pots of chocolate / hazelnut and raspberry and something that I cannot remember but that I'm sure was also awesome! What a great end to our trip.

I had an awesome time in both these cities and I can't wait to go back to Bratislava to eat some more of the amazing cherry cakes and to do some more exploring.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Vienna

I haven't blogged for a while, mainly because I've been saving my money to go to Vienna! I've wanted to visit for a while, it always looked like a beautiful city and as I've been an avid reader of the Vienna based oh, glorious food blog for a while now I knew there'd be loads of great vegan options in the city.

When a chance came up to hang out with old friend and blogger bazu from Where's the Revolution? (remember my Syracuse trip?), meet the awesome Melanie from oh, glorious food and hang out with some rad old and new PPK friends including Ditte from Veganism Rocks, Luciana from Luciana's Vegan Kitchen and Celine from Have Cake Will Travel there was no way I could resist!

We stayed with Carmen & Joshua, old friends of bazu & Luciana, and new friends of mine and I just wanted to mention what awesome hosts they were - you guys rock!

Now onto the food! The night I arrived we went for dinner at Landia where thankfully someone translated the menu for me as I speak no German. I chose the Schnitzel, a breaded and fried seitan cutlet stuffed with vegan cheese & ham which came with roasted potatoes & a side salad.


The schnitzel was amazing but I think the stars of this meal were the roasted potatoes. They were seriously awesome, perfectly cooked so they kinda melted in your mouth. I know they're 'just potatoes', how can they be so different to any other potato? I don't know exactly what the chef did to them but seriously they were amazing!

The next day we left Vienna for a few days and headed to Bratislava & Budapest but that's a whole other blog post so do excuse the chronologically confused nature of my blogging!

I was really excited to try a croissant at Backerei Waldherr and they certainly didn't disappoint.


This wholewheat croissant is not only dipped in chocolate but also filled with raspberry jam - my absolute favourite sweet combination!

We spent the day sightseeing and I got to visit one of Europe's oldest Ferris Wheels at the Prater.


I love a ferris wheel! see how happy I am...


...anyway enough of this, let's get back to the foodie bit!

We visited Formosa for lunch, I was super excited by their menu especially when I realised they had a vegan version of Calamari.


I was never that into meat but I did used to enjoy fish many years ago before I was vegetarian. This was (from what I can recall) a pretty good replica of this squid based meal. I think the actual fishy bit was made with a very firm tofu and it was really good.

I was pretty hungry so I also ordered the fish & chips.


This wasn't the most well rounded meal of the trip but all this fried goodness was awesome! Formosa not only has a very decently sized menu written in both German and English but they also have a vegi store attached selling all sorts of delicious vegan cheeses, biscuits, gummy sweets, fake meats and Vital Wheat Gluten, which is really hard to find in Europe.

That night we hit up vegetarian bar Rupps. Not only is this place super cool, covered in rad posters and they play decent-ish music but the food's awesome, the service is amazing and, if you're into this kind of thing, they serve over 400 types of whiskey and a good selection of vegan beers and ciders!

I chowed down on the Haustoast a grilled cheese sandwich, I'd say this was the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever eaten.


Just look at that melty, cheesy goodness! I also tried the garlic soup with croutons...


This was SO damn garlicky, it was perfect! I cannot wait to visit Vienna and Rupps again, there were so many other things on the menu I'd like to try and I can't stress enough just how great the staff were, especially as there were over 20 of us!

The next day after some time at the MAK we took a walk through the Naschmarkt, Vienna's huge open market, to hunt down the other vegan croissant location. Once we arrived they'd sold out but they did have these wholewheat jam-filled cookies which kept the hunger pains at bay for a few hours.


After the market we couldn't resist heading back to Formosa to try the fried shrimp and pommes frites and they certainly didn't disappoint.


We also headed back to Landia late Saturday afternoon for a PPK meet up. There were about 25 of us from all over Europe and we had a damn good time, ate loads of delicious food and some of us partook in some vodka & mango juices!

I couldn't resist more of the best potatoes ever so ordered another schnitzel based meal.


This time there were two breaded seitan steaks with the potatoes and it was again delicious.

Last but not least on my way to the airport we managed to fit in lunch at one location of the city-wide chain of vegetarian Taiwanese restaurants, Vegetasia. They have an a la carte menu but we all went for the buffet as it was pretty cheap at about €9.


Here we have a bowl of miso soup next to a plate full of mini meaty vegetable skewers, gyoza dumplings, noodles with stir fried vegetables & tofu, spring rolls and sushi - both vegetable and ''fish''. We all agreed the smoked salmon sushi was creepily realistic but aside from that everything was delicious, I went back for way too many dumplings and if I hadn't had to leave I could have stayed for hours stuffing my face with their fried awesomeness!

I cannot wait to get back to Vienna as there are a few vegan places I didn't get to and I need to revisit all of the awesome places from this trip. I'm actually planning on learning German as I think Vienna and Berlin are my two favourite European cities and I'd love to be able to translate the menus and labels all by myself next time.

Next time Bratislava & Budapest!