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. 

Alfred Prasad’s tasting menu at Sani Gourmet festival, Greece

The night started off as any other night as a vegan. With low sighs and frustration as I leafed through the delicious sounding tasting menu. Everything said it was coated with yoghurt, meat, or other non-vegan miscellany. So I asked the waitress behind me if it would be possible to order a salad from another restaurant on the resort while the press group I was travelling with tucked into to a sensory, delicious eating experience.

But she looked shocked at the suggestion. A second later a waiter came over and told me that Prasad and his team would make a vegan friendly menu for me, so I could enjoy everything. I was so bowled over by this generosity (considering how crazy the kitchen must be) that I must have just beamed. I had loved Atul Kochar’s Benares and I was excited to experience Prasad’s cooking too. Michelin star Indian cooking is just so interesting and exciting – it’s almost as good as a big bowl of curry and naan.

Each course was staggeringly good, and here, in pictures, is why you should go and eat at one of Prasad’s restaurants. It was exceptional. I want to thank his team for making me something spectacular that I could enjoy as much as my colleagues.

To start

Chickpea and tamarind

Chickpea and tamarind

This chickpea pate (almost) tasted like a swish version of Bhel Poori balls. Sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, wheat strains, and puffed bread, it was the most exceptional dish of the evening. It burst with flavour, and went from sweet, to sour, to bitter, to sweet again in seconds. An absolute joy to eat.

Next

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Sorry for the BLUR

While everyone else got a broth of mussels and a scallop (which smelled fragrant and delicious), I was served a spiced fruit salad (almost like a chaat) served with a potato cake. On the potato cake (which was gently spiced), there was a spread of pepper relish which lifted the potato. The only strange thing? Such a salad worked well with the mango that was in it – I don’t think I’m ready for spiced strawberries and potatoes.

Next

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While everyone else was eating something different (probs more fish), I was served a Greek classic – with an Indian twist. A softly baked tomato served with Indian spiced couscous and a circle of pickled red onion. It was warming and delicious, and I appreciated it very much, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the first chickpea course. MAN.

Palate cleanser

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This divided the table – a tamarind granita. I’m tired of gushing, but this was a grower. It was like a salty lassi – on first sip you’re not sure it’s really what you want. But the coldness cut through any strange salty undertones, went to a sweet granita and finished with fresh mint. It was the best palate cleanser I have ever had, hands down. I could probably have drunk an entire mugful, it was that good.

Main

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Butter Chicken is the classic Indian dish. And I think I got something better. Soft, fluffy rice topped with an incredible tomato vegetable sauce. How can I describe this without salivating? Impossible. The vegetables were cut and cooked to perfection and the sauce they were cooked in was rich and decadently spiced. But the highlight of the main? The tiny pot of coconut curry sauce which, if I’d been alone, I would have licked out to make sure none was wasted.

Dessert

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Dessert is a tough one to replicate for vegans with just 2 minutes notice, so I’ll forgive the kitchen for not going to town with this one. I got two scoops of sorbet – one, a beautiful, creamy mango, and the other, a tangy and quite harsh pomegranate. But, happily, they were decorated with shards of raspberry tuile which were TO DIE FOR.

Alfred Prasad, I salute you and your team. You made my week. Thank you for accommodating such a tricky eater. It was all wonderful. And to anyone else who fancies checking out this talented chef, he plans to open his own London eatery soon.

DISCLAIMER: I was on a press trip to Sani Resort, where the event was held, but my views on my blog are my own. 

Buddha Bodai: eating vegan in NYC’s Chinatown

  

Vegan Thai and Chinese restaurants in big American cities are ten-a-penny, but I was keen to revisit a vegan Chinese restaurant in New York after a previous disastrous attempt with my parents.

My dad knows what he likes to eat – tofu carved into the shape of a chicken is not one of these things. We went expecting chow mein and we left slightly startled and still hungry. I fear that experience has put him off Asian eating for life. 

Although I’ve travelled to China since – and really enjoyed the choice and tastes of vegetarian food – I’ve always been a little unnerved by fake meat and things that are meant to resemble chicken feet or intestines but are actually tofu. 

We poked around San Francisco’s Chinatown – at 24 blocks, it’s the largest Chinatown outside of China, but already full and rolling from a hefty brunch at Herbivore we just couldn’t make room for dim sum. 

  

So an opportune day trip to New York arose in the form of a lengthy layover at JFK, and we decided to fully embrace a trip to Chinatown to Buddha Bodai to give vegan Chinese another go.

For $7.50 you get unlimited hot tea, a starter of soup or spring roll, rice, and an enormous plate of main meal (19 options!). These ranged from the weird (chicken nuggets in sauce, to the delicious, normal sounding broccoli and deep fried shiitake mushroom in sauce. 

  

It’s canteen style, with tables relatively close together and a busy, impersonal service, but the food is phenomenal.

I have never eaten such an incredible sweet sour soup in my whole life, and Sam, who eats meat, agrees. It’s a little over-thickened and the texture is a tad gloopy, but who the hell cares? It’s warm, and spicy, and sour without being rich and without any hint of that sticky red sweetness that constitutes a sweet and sour soup in London’s Chinatown. 

  

The spring roll had that pleasing crunch of pastry and slight ooze of oil that you hope for in a spring roll. Even better, you could taste the vegetables inside it – they were crunchy too and hadn’t just been denigrated to a slimy mush. 

The mains were a slightly mixed bag, but that’s only because I wanted to try the plate of bean curd skin, and in reflection, that was a mistake. The mushrooms and broccoli was a dish from another world. I hadn’t quite realised the mushroom would be deep fried and coated in a sticky, gelatinous sauce, so it was crunchy and sticky at the same time. 

  

Too tired after my bumpy-non sleeping night flight to even chew, (#firstworldproblems), Sam polished off most of two mains and the two starters and tea. 

  

It was a noble effort, and we waddled out of Chinatown and towards the subway, where I promptly fell asleep. 

Herbivore: where skinheads and hippies join hands and eat pancakes

“Sitting in the booth next to me is a tattooed man. He is a skinhead. He has a male partner who is looking enviously at the vegan gluten free lasagne that the waitress has just placed in front of him. 

We are sitting in a vegan restaurant, called herbivore. In front of him sits a half drunk spirulina infused pineapple juice. When he talks he has a Yorkshire accent. “I’m from Chesterfield,” he says. We momentarily reminisce about the leaning spire of Chesterfield (google it). He looks hard -tough knuckles kind of hard – and like the sort of man I used to avoid in Sheffield City centre on a Friday night.


Folks, this is San Francisco, where men with tough morals and tough fists eat vegan.”

I wrote this almost a year ago, when I visited San Francisco for the first time. Now I’m back, and I’ve dragged Sam to the Berkeley branch of the same restaurant.

The breakfast menu is staggeringly good for this area, and the price is great compared to other vegan restaurant places we’ve visited. This is my fourth visit to Herbivore, and each time I’m torn between trail mix choc chip pancakes, salsa and corn cakes, the breakfast burrito, or sausage, biscuits and gravy.

Luckily, this time I have an ally, so we split the corn cakes and pancakes, and to alleviate the guilt, get a green juice too.

As ever, it’s perfect. Vegan sour cream, creamy avocado, crunchy corn cakes and piquant tomato salsa. Amazing.

I always forget how little I like pancakes for breakfast, but feel compelled to order them in the U.S. Regardless. These are fine, but I hate having such a sweet, stodgy start to the day. And this day I’ve been up since 4.30am trying to meet a deadline for my book proposal. So my fingers are hungry at the very least.

So here’s to vegan breakfasteries, and the pleasure of shared breakfast meetings. 




Mohawk Bend, Silverlake, LA: the best vegan brunch ever

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I am cynical, disgusting person filled with negativity and cloud. Now we’ve put me into perspective, let me just rave for five minutes on how incredible and bowled over I am by Mohawk Bend in LA.

We rocked up on the Saturday of Easter Weekend and were the first ones there. No matter: we got excellent and quick service from an absolutely lovely waitress and we were lead through to sit in the vast space at the back of the restaurant. Mohawk Bend used to be an old movie theatre and the ceiling is vault-like, the brick work is exposed, and the cocktail area is intimate, just as it should be.

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And I know I keep mentioning it, but here’s another difference between London and LA. In London, all the vegan places are like Cafe Gratitude: they pump out great food but it’s all very worthy. This menu was heavy and full of sugars and fast (yay!), and there was an actual bar that served drinks and cocktails. It stays open until 2am. In London, it’s presumed that all vegans are in bed by 7. And this is what I love about LA. Although a lot of people are omnivores eating vegan isn’t seen as eating weird: it’s just something that you do. Vegan food is experimental (it has to be to work out how to get all the awesome flavours that animal products normally impart) and the “vegan group” of people aren’t seen as weirdos here. It really is paradise.

What made me warm to Mohawk Bend all the more is that on IMG_4741its menu things were only marked if they were not vegan. So non-vegans could have bacon if they wanted, but by default, pretty much everything on the brunch menu was vegan. I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS FUCKERY?

I opted for french toast (because I haven’t eaten french toast in three years) which came with a side of sticky peanut syrup and fresh strawberries. I knew the strawberries were superfluous, the server knew they were superfluous, hell, even the strawberries were like “Why am I even on this goddamn plate?”. Yet there they were, trying to convince me that I wasn’t a fat pig as I channelled the moistest, gooiest, stickiest, french toast in the world towards my mouth.

Add a pint of pink grapefruit juice to that, and we’re all set for a day trawling LA’s art galleries. Bingo.