Saturday, September 22, 2012

European food I - a catch up

I am pausing from my sight seeing travel posts to try and catch up on some of the snacks and meals that haven't yet been mentioned. Squeezing food and sights into single posts has proved tricky, and the food side is easier for me to remember and post at leisure.

Before starting, I should mention our approach to eating on holiday. We tend to mix self-catering with eating out whenever possible, and definitely prefer picnic-style or casual cafe lunches to formal restaurants at lunchtime. We also carry snacks with us wherever we go (Mr Bite always has biscuits, for instance), because we have learnt through experience that we are liable to walk for hours and then think about lunch, meaning that by the time we actually find somewhere it can be 2.30pm with blood sugar levels dropping fast.

Yoghurt-topped, fruit containing Digestive biscuits. I ask you, why can't Australia have these?

For me, this is also the first overseas trip where I haven't eaten meat. Two years ago, I still ate chicken on occasion and fish and seafood quite freely. These days, my eating doesn't fit neatly into a category, but at home I tend to describe myself as 80% vegan. I don't really think that veganism is something you can dip in and out of, but that term is the best I have come up with to describe my eating preferences. The non-vegan 20% consists of dairy intermittently, about two serves of fish a month, occasional honey, and the odd trace of egg.

I decided ahead of this trip that I would be a vegetarian with vegan preferences for the purpose of travelling overseas. The idea of eating fish of unknown origin, unknown storage method, and unknown preparation method did not appeal. At the same time, I didn't want to complicate our eating efforts by strictly avoiding dairy and egg in countries with unfamiliar foods and languages. I know it is possible to do so, but as I am not strictly vegan at any time, travel seemed an occasion for flexibility.

I haven't tried this yet, but I am extremely excited to do so...

Mr Bite, who eats chicken regularly at home and red meat occasionally, also drops those products whilst travelling. This is due to some questionable experiences in the past with hygiene / food preparation, and means that he is a vegetarian who also eats fish when on holiday. It makes eating out slightly simpler, even if his food preferences tend to include tuna and cheese and egg whereas mine do not.

Enough, however, of words...here are some of our previously unmentioned, but nonetheless memorable, food experiences to date.

(More) Madrid frozen yoghurt.


This came from the same market-based store of my first Madrid frozen yoghurt. It included the same slightly tart base, this time with cherry sauce and chocolate coated sesame seeds.

Seriously good.

Pizza.

This is an easy fall-back for us and featured the night after our fancy vegetarian restaurant in Madrid. It was a sort of his and hers swap, in terms of dinner selection!


Mr Bite had a tuna pizza, which he declared to be good, and I had a vegetarian that featured artichokes, mushroom, zucchini, eggplant and tomato. The base was gorgeously crispy and whilst there was a tad too much cheese for my liking, the surplus was easily removed.


Lindt mousse chocolate.


I don't know why we don't have this in Australia (or perhaps we do and it's just not in Western Australia?). It contains milk, but the outer chocolate is dark enough to offset the milkier mousse within, and it had the truffle-like filling that I love in chocolate.


A bit melty when travelling, but that's all the more reason to eat it quickly.

Self-catering meal number 3.

Our first self-catered meal in Madrid, the night of our arrival, was soup and bread. We also had a tomato-based pasta with chickpeas (me) and tuna (Mr B) in the middle of our week there. 

On our last night, in an effort to use up food and try out newly found tofu nuggets, we had a slightly random combination that I will not even attempt to name - self-catering meal number 3 is as good as it gets.



Mr Bite's plate featured pasta in vegetable soup, with a side of a few tofu nuggets. Mine had more tofu nuggets, a smaller amount of pasta, and soup in a mug. We both had raw carrot eaten whilst the nuggets and pasta were cooking. Not exactly gourmet cuisine, but enjoyable!


The tofu nuggets were different to any I've tried in Australia, tasting ever so slightly of falafel in their flavouring and being nicely coated but still more tofu than crumb.

Kari's dress shopping purchases.

You may remember that I mentioned a shopping trip on our last afternoon in Madrid. I had vague ideas about a summer dress. Instead, I bought a scarf and then found a large supermarket and a smaller vegan-friendly food section within Madrid's largest department store, El Corte Ingles. 

Dresses were forgotten and instead I purchased these:


The Lindt chocolate, also pictured at the top of this post, is yet to be eaten. The 87% cocoa dark chocolate with vegan white mint chips has been eaten, and was delightfully dark as well as delightfully minty. 


The freeze-dried pineapple made me thirsty, as freeze-dried fruit is wont to do, but made for an enjoyable snack on our train ride to Porto.

Fruit.

This has featured all through our travels, with summer fruit being in season and just incredible. I have had peaches, plums, nectarines, pineapple and mango to date. Even the 'boring' fruit, like apples and pears, has tasted better than Australia's fading winter crops.


Wok to Walk

Oh, Wok to Walk. We first stumbled on this in Lisbon, and have managed to eat it twice in the past week. The company is a European-based franchise that started in Amsterdam in 2004. The stores aim to provide fresh, nutritious food quickly, made in front of you, and made to your specifications. It is a bit like an Asian subway, but better. We loved it and I would happily swap Australia's Wagamama stores for some Wok to Walk branches.

Mr Bite's egg noodles with tofu and vegetables in black bean sauce

The menu is designed to be a 3-step process. Pick a base, pick toppings, and pick a sauce. Mr Bite has ordered the same combination twice, with egg noodles with vegetables, tofu, and black bean sauce.


I have pretty much ordered the same thing twice too. The first time I had their vegetable base, which is number 7 above, with tofu and soy sauce. The second time I had the vegetable base with tofu, extra brocolli, and sweet and sour sauce. Both were amazing. In the picture below, it is ALL vegetables and tofu. I was in heaven.

One of the best dinners I have eaten on this holiday, despite it being completely un-European

I would like a spicy sauce that isn't super hot or coconut-based (their spice options at the moment) but really, I love the menu concept too much to complain.


Lemon and coconut sorbets.

These were a Madrid purchase, on a hot afternoon when we had walked for some hours. Mr B is quite a fan of lemon sorbet, and I was caught up in the novelty of a coconut variety - not something I had seen before.

Lemon sorbet

The lemon sorbet was very lemony, tart first and sweet second, and I think it has satisfied Mr Bite's lemon taste buds for some time.

My coconut variety was incredible, with the texture and consistency of sorbet but added creaminess from the coconut component and an eating experience that straddled sorbet and ice cream.

Coconut sorbet

I loved it and am keen to try and recreate it at home.

And there we have it - a lot of food! If you could pick one item, what would you pick?!

25 comments:

  1. It's amazing how you have to adjust your eating habits to fit in to an over seas environment. I haven't seen that Lindt chocolate here in Sydney so if you try it, let me know what it's like. xx

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  2. Looks like you are getting some good eats! Vegan white mint chips?! Never seen or heard of such a thing, totally jealous :)

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    1. I hadn't either, but my gosh they were good!

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  3. Fun post! The Wok to Walk sounds a bit like Ghenghis Khan, which is in my today's post, although at GK you put it all together yourself. Mmm chocolate sesame seeds on frozen yoghurt! Oh, and I've definitely seen that Plamil dark mint chocolate in Canberra many times, so you can probably find it again. The cherry chilli Lindt did exist a few years ago, too, but haven't seen it recently.

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    1. Oh good to the Plamil chocolate, because I liked it very much :) Although now I have bought so much English chocolate that I may be eating chocolate in ridiculous amounts to the rest of the year...

      Shall look forward to hearing about Ghenghis Khan!

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  4. what a fun place to honeymoon at, seriously!!!! :D And I'm glad you guys are being flexible~after all, vacation is when we get to push past our limits and norms, right? ;) And I bet the pizza there is to die for.....anything European is yummy, haha.

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  5. spring will have come all at once when you get home - wonderful fresh produce coming into the shops - I love the sound of wok to work - sounds a bit like mad mex but asian not mexican - it is a great concept for fast food - I would go for the chocolate mousse chocolate too - I have seen new chocolate lately a bit like this but can't remember if it was this one (and I didn't buy it despite wanting it because there are too many temptations in the chocolate aisle)

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned Australian produce because I think I'm going to need something to look forward to coming home to :P

      I have had no self-control in the chocolate aisles whilst away. It's looking terribly likely that my hand luggage going home will be about a kg of chocolate!

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  6. everything looks sooo good. I love places like Wok to Walk where you basically design the meal!

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    1. Me too :) I don't know why more places don't do it!

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  7. PIZZA!!! actually even more to the point the crust!! :) yummy!! but all of that noshing looks great. i'm like u tho in that wherever i go i always hit the grocery store and try to make as much meals/snacks that way. it saves lots of $$ and makes sure i do eat some healthy fare...hehe.

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    1. Grocery stores are definitely cheaper, and as they're so fun it's like a double bonus!

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  8. I love self catering while on holiday because it gives me an excuse to explore foreign supermarkets and fresh food markets. We ate such fantastic things, particularly in Paris and yes the fruit is amazing in Europe. I'm glad to hear you are having a great time!

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    1. Thanks Lisa :) And I am with you on any excuse to explore foreign supermarkets - I could (to Mr Bite's dismay) spend literally hours doing so.

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  9. I LOVE the sound of Wok to Walk.... I dig those "build a meal" type places (cos I'm fussy!)

    Coconut sorbet sounds like my kinda treat - actually, coconut ANYTHING :)

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    1. I am on a bit of a coconut kick on this holiday. Coconut seems to be popular in Europe!

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  10. What a great selection of eats! I love the sound of Wok to Walk - noodles are perfect take-away food and the fact that you can build your own dish is so appealing.

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    1. It really is...especially in foreign countries with languages I'm not up to speed on ;)

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  11. Holy food choices! I imagine the food has to be one of thee best part of this adventure!! I love coconut too, always my favorite. The cherry and chile combination sounds intriguing and that vegetarian pizza looks divine!!!

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    1. The food is definitely up there in the fun stakes!

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  12. Those noodles look amazing, I would love to try those out. And the freeze dried pineapple sounds interesting too. I find so many things on holiday in Europe that I wish were sold back home!

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  13. Welcome back! So much food, so little time. I want the yoghurt top digestives here too.

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