Vegan hotdogs in Santa Cruz, Tenerife

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the meat-free wind is starting to blow here. 

Vegan hotdogs in Santa Cruz, Tenerife

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the meat-free wind is starting to blow here. 

With four hours left before my flight home and having finished all the work I’d come to Tenerife to do, I decided to locate Santa Cruz’s vegan offerings. This is Northern Tenerife, well away from the crowded high rises and apartment blocks of Los Christianos. 

  
I’d been really surprised by Tenerife. For a start, I’d spent the last four days cowering from the freezing cold weather – in early June, fog and wind had been the order of the day. This is an island of microclimates, and my trip had taken me away from the sunshine. First up to El Teide, a mountain in the centre (fog), and then along the northern coastline which is reminiscent of California’s craggy Route One.

  
The purpose of the trip (oh the hardship), was to track down gourmet Tenerife – the culinary heart of the island. Over the last few days I’ve tasted some incredible wines and eaten a vegan menu at a two star Michelin restaurant. But now, with a few hours to myself, I left the comfort of the hotel’s saltwater pool and comfy loungers, to find Burger Mel, a totally vegan hamburger joint in Santa Cruz.

  
The fact that such a thing even existed surprised me for many reasons. The main one is that Spain is not known for its veggie friendly cuisine, and yet, according to Happy Cow, there seem to be about five Burger Mel’s. She offered me vegan mayonnaise but normal cheese (possibly – my Spanish is mediocre and she didn’t speak English), so it might be worth double checking before you go faux-dairy crazy.
I had absolutely no idea what I just ordered until she just brought it just now. I seem to have got a hotdog with vegan mayonnaise, salsa, onions, and topped with avocado. It’s awesome. Best of all is how cheap Tenerife is away from the tourist areas – it’s incredible.

  
I packed nine euros (now worth about 5 pounds) in my purse worried I wouldn’t have enough and the whole meal including a piña (pineapple juice) came to 4 euros. Amazing. 
It’s good too. It lacks a little texture but  made a nice change from Tenerife’s high end restaurants. And perhaps the wind is changing here. 

Santa Monica Blues: Real Food Daily

You know those moods you get into when nothing goes well? And even though you’re obviously having the time of your life being in Santa Monica (etc etc), even if somebody from Penguin rocked up and offered you a book contract you’d manage a grimace at best?

Well that was my mood in Santa Monica. Apart from being disastrously difficult to reach by public transport (despite the 704), a woman who had clearly never had a shower sat down in front of me and I couldn’t physically move. While I was trying not to retch (the smell was indescribable) I ran through twenty million things like: this woman has been victimised by the US’s terrible social security system; it’s disgusting that there are no benefits; she might have had a catastrophic medical bill to pay; depression can make even keeping clean challenging. But despite my liberal attempts at justifying this lady’s state, I couldn’t ignore two things: there are free showers down by the beach, and that I would be on a bus with her for an hour. It was tough, but even admitting that felt hard. My one hour of hardship was nothing compared to her life, so I shouldn’t ever complain.

Second strike: We rocked up at a hotel in Santa Monica that I thought I’d organised through a PR for the one free night of my trip, but turns out I was an idiot and hadn’t confirmed it. So we were on the road sooner than we had planned to be.

And here’s where my foul mood started: even though we went to Real Food Daily, I couldn’t shift the black cloud of irritation. So, now we’ve put the meal into perspective, let me give as balanced opinion as I can of the meal.

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1. It didn’t open until 11am. What is with late opening times in LA? It’s not like anything even shuts late…

2. I ordered the veggie burger with all the trimmings (seiten bacon, cashew cheese, and avocado). At 13 dollars this should be included anyway. It pushed the price up to 16 dollars which was a lot.

3. The plate was accompanied by a caeser salad with crouton chunks. These could probably be donated to the local geological society under “lumps of lava”. They were inedibably hard – I was concerned that if I ate more than one chunk I’d be returning to the UK with no teeth. Not ideal.

4. The seiten bacon and cashew cheese were absolutely delicious, and the lentil burger was ok. The best thing about the whole plate? The tangy and creamy caeser salad dressing.

5. No wifi. Do not come here if you need to arrange urgent road trip preparations or book hotels. (From painful experience).

6. The service was amazing. Our server was lovely and cheerful and friendly.

7. The bakery part of RFD looked like something out of this world. Amazing. I only wish I’d had room after the burger to try something, like a slice of pie or slab of chocolate cake. Sigh.

It didn’t manage to turn my bad mood around, but it did fill a sizeable hole in my stomach. And the server was fab – did I mention that?

KiChic vegetarian hotel, Mancora

There are many things you expect to find in Peru, but a vegetarian boutique hotel wasn’t one of them.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the hotel on my sister blog, but now it’s the time for the restaurant to receive some serious acclaim of it’s own.

Gosh, where to even start? I suppose it would be easy to say that with a setting such as a white sandy beach, Palm Trees and the Pacific Ocean, even a bin bag covered in salt would taste great.

KiChic is the opposite of everything we’ve eaten in Peru so far. It’s the Mondrian of food: clean lines, block colours and a fresh take on the traditional. On the first day we arrived we shared a vegan burger. It was enormous, but it wasn’t enough. Filled with layers of avocado, coconut vegan mayonnaise, a quinoa and shiitake mushroom burger, and a heap of other little delights like raw onions marinated in coriander and lime-juice, the burger took vegan food to the next level. It was served with some unpleasant little cardboard crisps, like the kind you might take on a family picnic for the fussy eater. They were bland; we ignored them, the only duff note in this symphony of a restaurant.

The next time we had the KiChic sandwich and Causa starter. The sandwich sounded dull but got my vote for the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Ever. It had layers of fresh spinach, marinated mushrooms, heavy, briney purple olives, caramelised onions, a hummus there for the texture rather than the flavour, and fresh from the tree avocados. A drizzle of Peruvian olive oil made it all sing.

Later that night, a green salad scattered with smoked sesame seed powder, crunchy tender stem broccoli, acidic green olives, arugula, and avocado was the star of the evening. A thin crisp pizza without cheese but scattered with those delicious purple olives popping with salt and fruity acidity complemented the salad.

For breakfast, miniature bowls of just-sweet granola came with jars of fresh yoghurt, or almond milk like mine. The next course, a glass of chilled fruit juice (piña), the best coffee you will drink in Peru (fact, because it’s not Nescafé), perfectly scrambled, poached or fried eggs, and then a miniature basket of bread served with homemade papaya jam. Ok, here’s the thing. I hate papaya, passionfruit, apricot and peach jam. As far as I can tell, any of these flavours are an abomination and the maker should just stick to a strawberry or tart blackcurrant. But if you happen to be a fan of papaya, you will dig this.

KiChic gets everything right. From the peaceful, chic, surroundings, to the incredible variety of vegan and veggie dishes served with unwavering politeness and friendliness from the staff. If I come back to Peru, this place will be a massive reason why.

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Kidney Beans-Not another chilli?

Spicy bean burgers-10 minutes to make

Spicy bean burgers-10 minutes to make

Last night my cupboards were looking a little bare. This is unusual, as I thought I’d adopted my parent’s trait of buying as many tins as I could, whenever I could, just in case the Queen popped over for dinner unexpectedly (This never happened and consequently my parent’s shelves were always groaning under the weight of canned peaches). Behind a tin of fragrant water-chestnuts -unopened since 2003- I found my last can of Value Range Kidney Beans. I am not fond of Kidney Beans. I hate that my immediate reaction when I find a can of Kidney Beans is “oh, chilli.” And then I get sad because nobody really wants chilli unless they are very cold, very hungry or they have lots of left-overs to play with. Don’t kid me-I know this is true. No matter how much quinoa and portobello mushrooms you add to it.

So I stared at this can of Red Kidney Beans, willing my mind to say something other than “Chilli.” I looked in another cupboard and found a very soft onion and an enormous sweet potato which had started to sprout antennae. I rejected the potato, took the onion and while doing so unearthed a carrot. One of those carrots that’s so floppy it wilts when you hold it. But I had my ingredients. I’d make some quick burgers. And to go with it? A few wilted lettuce leaves would do as the burger bun. Vietnamese style. It looks like I could use more than I thought. The sweet potato (with extraneous limbs removed) would do well baked for my lunch tomorrow. Ideal.

Ingredients (makes enough for 2-4 depending on how hungry you are-I made tiny ones)

A carrot, grated

A can of red kidney beans, although white would work

An onion, chopped finely

A heaped teaspoon of cumin

Chopped chilli (substitute powder if no fresh)

Chopped ginger (substitute powder if no fresh)

Desertspoon of GF flour (or normal if you’re not afflicted)

A handful of raisins.

Method:

Add the kidney beans to a pan of boiling water and let them soften. It should take about 5 minutes.

Drain and add the vegetables and spices. Fry together on a low heat with a dash of oil.

When the onion and carrot looked cooked mash together and add the flower. The consistency should be paste like. Roll into little balls and then press the patties flat. These ingredients should make 6 substantial ones.

Heat some oil in another pan and when it starts to steam, add the patties. Fry on both sides until cooked.

Serve with a dollop of chutney or with a lettuce leaf wrapped around it. May also work with bread and salad and rice if ravenous.