I’ve returned! Though the actual traveling days (both to and from) were experiences I don’t care to relive, my trip to Sweden and Scotland was so great, and so needed. I’m back refreshed in the much colder Minnesota, excited to be home and to cook in my own kitchen again. There were, however, some very delicious vegan meals abroad…despite my excitement and ensuing disappointment at trying Sheese. (I’m sticking to my own cheeze-making for eternity now.)
First up, Mono, an all-vegan restaurant near the Merchant City area of Glasgow. My old Art School friend Franki (for whom my cat is named) had really wonderful things to say about this place, and I was not disappointed in the least! There was a nice variety on the menu, from traditional Scottish-type food to Indian, Greek, and Asian, housed in a spacious, casual room with a bar, a stage, and an attached record shop. My only complaint is that I only got to eat there twice.
On day one, Franki ordered the Mono Burger, a bean burger that looked beautiful and, so I hear, tasted delicious. I opted for the Greek platter, since I was hungry and it involved falafel and hummus and olives and tzatziki and sald. So good! The falafel was crisp on the outside and perfectly meltable within. It was spiced more mildly than I’m used to, but I have nothing ill to say about them.
After a long walk on my own around town and through Necropolis, Glasgow’s old, crumbling cemetary, I found my way back and couldn’t resist their Indian platter (though I was too hungry to photograph it). Curry, naan, rice, spicy pickled onions, and poppadums were devoured while I researched the day’s bird sightings. Despite pigging out, I had to try some vegan ice cream. Let me tell you, I can’t find a single way that the taste of Swedish Glace ice cream differs from what I used to eat in Sweden. My sister, a vegan-friendly though special-diet-free kind of girl, said the same thing when I got to have some for a second time later in the week. This is the best (vegan) ice cream I’ve ever eaten!
The next couple of days consisted of jacket potatoes, soup and vegan haggis (more about that in a later post), and lots of oatcakes. They’re made from oats, water, and salt, and were a nice alternative to bread with soup, or as pictured here, as a base for a vegan mushroom pate at a small cafe in Inverness which also served up a tasty slice of banana date cake:
Sadly the most amazing meal of the whole trip, and indeed almost any vegan dining out experience I’ve had, was consumed without my camera at hand. There we were, two vegetarians and a vegan, wondering where in the world we could get something halfway decent on the Isle of Skye (if you don’t know about this place, just think remote and rather traditional and limited in the food arena). A soul-saving server recommended the Harbour Restaurant to us where we found not only clearly labeled vegtarian dishes, but vegan ones as well! It came at a price (15 pounds for a three-course meal), but I have never felt so satisfied spending money on food at a restaurant before. My sister went for the roasted red pepper hummus as a starter, while her boyfriend and I got the ginger carrot soup. The hummus was mostly red pepper, actually, and both smokey and fresh and light at the same time, while the soup was simple and spicy. Unfortunately, there were only two remaining haggis (wrapped in pastry and served with a red wine sauce and steamed vegetables), so as the only person at our table who liked eggplant, I chose the sweet potato and aubergine risotto. My dish was delicious, and I got to have a couple bites of the homemade haggis, which was delightful! We all finished with an apple and blackberry cinnamon oaty crumble served with vanilla Swedish Glace. Oh! so full, and so happy.
I did get a chance to cook a few times while staying with both Franki and my sister. I made my pretend-famous sweet potato burgers (one of the zine recipes), only subbing pinto beans for black beans, and exchanging quinoa for millet (my sister’s boyfriend can’t eat millet). I had my sister whip up a spicy tomato-avocado salsa to have with it, while I made a simple vinaigrette to dress and mixed greens and lamb’s lettuce. Have you ever had lamb’s lettuce? It’s beautiful, with small, almost curling round leaves… I’d never heard of or seen it before. I’m gonna keep my eyes out next year for some seeds for our garden. At any rate, yum! A satisfying meal, followed by some Galletas de Avena a la Vegan de Guadalupe.
As with any trip, there were highlights and lowlights concerning food (the lowest point probably being my 9.5 hour flight from Amsterdam to Chicago with nothing but water and one salad roll). And as much as I enjoyed myself, I was definitely ready to come home to my own comfy bed, my ladyfriend, and our two kitties.
Throughout the trip I thought a lot about this cooking video I’d watched online before leaving featuring a raw thai-style green curry. A fortutious free produce score later (and a thai young coconut in the fridge), I realized this vision:
Smashing, eh? Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions and green beans doused in a green curry sauce made from coconut meat and water, basil, agave, and curry paste. I omitted the kombu water from the original recipe and added salt. The leftovers tasted even better the next day!
I hope I can get cracking on some more posts despite the craziness of the “holiday season” and work out a recipe for vegan haggis, a new twist on vegan Swedish meatballs, and some other delights that don’t include my edible but strange attempt at whole-grain Santa Lucia rolls that are cooling on the counter right now. Sigh. There will have to be some other baking post (like my entry for Cafetto coffeeshop’s pie- and cake-baking contest during their craft fair this Sunday!).