Sunday 17 May 2015

Vegan in Madrid- Part 1

I've just got back from a five day break in Madrid with The Boy and his family.

The trip started with the flight to Manchester Airport, and although I've learnt now to bring a bucket load of snacks with me on planes and I definitely had more than enough to eat, I couldn't resist buying this falafel sandwich from the WH Smith at Manchester Terminal 3.

To be honest, it wasn't the most amazing sandwich I'd had, the falafels were a bit meh and as a general coriander hater I found the coriander was a bit over powering .  I do realise that it probably wasn't the best idea to buy a sandwich that clearly stated that it contained coriander hummus but I was too excited.  Plus by buying it hopefully WH Smith will be encouraged to keep stocking it and maybe expand the range.

On day one, we headed towards Opera Metro stop and the nearby Plaza Mayor where we stumbled on Mercado de San Miguel, which alongside fresh produce stalls also sells various tapas.  Although most of it was non- vegan, they did have a fruit stall that sold fresh juices and cups of fresh fruit at 3 Euros each.  The Carrefour Express across the road was selling cups of fruit cheaper, however it wasn't as fresh and delicious as the ones at the market.  There were also stalls selling olives and nuts that looked like they may be safe options.  We ended up here for breakfast on two occasions, on both times I got a cup of fruit and the last time I also go a cup of fresh strawberry juice that tasted amazing.  

I also loved the mountain of strawberries that the stall had. They were advertising 1 kilo of strawberries for just under 9 Euro!

After breakfast we went for a wander around Madrid and came across the Royal Palace of Madrid and by complete coincidence a Foreign Diplomat was coming to visit so there was a crowd outside along with royal guards, a bit like what I imagine Buckingham Palace to be like at the changing of the guard. However the highlight was definitely the three peacocks just wandering around!

Around 4pm and after surviving on some fruit and ginger oatcakes all day I was getting quite hungry, however, in Spain places start to close around 4:30 and re-open later on so we weren't having much luck.  Eventually we came across Shi-Shang which is a vegetarian Chinese buffet that was still serving food.  After telling the waitress "Soy Vegana" (yes, that is the extent of my Spanish!) she explained that all the savoury dishes were vegan.  I don't know what I had as nothing was labelled and I was too hungry to care but it was your standard Chinese stuff of rice, noodles, fried stuff and mock meat curries.

The mains were a bit on the cold side, as they were coming up to closing time and a tiny bit greasy but for just 8.95 Euro for an all you can eat buffet you can't grumble. For some reason, all the mock meat dishes included pieces of hot dog sausages, which was a bit random but they were actually really nice so I wasn't complaining.

I was also happy to discover that they had vegan options for dessert, which were vegan chocolate brownies, strawberries and vegan custard.  The custard had separated a bit, but you just needed to stir it past the point of it looking like scrambled egg and then it was actually quite nice with a lovely vanilla flavour.  The only negative point about the desserts was that they also served jelly, which to be fair they had marked as not being suitable for vegetarians or vegans but it was a bit strange to see in a place that is suppose to be vegetarian.

The next day we wandered over to La Biotika near Anton Martin Metro stop, a vegetarian restaurant with a small shop attached so I could buy a few snacks for the next couple of days.  I managed to find some Clif bars for around 2.15 Euro, which works out around £1.63, a lot cheaper than what they cost over here not to mention that nowhere in Bolton sells them.  They were selling blueberry, peanut and white chocolate and macadamia nut flavours so I grabbed one of each and they tided me over for three breakfasts.  Despite never being a fan of white chocolate, the white chocolate one was my favorite and I checked the ingredients numerous times just to make sure it was vegan! I wish I'd visited that shop again to stock up now I'm home.

This time we were a little more organised and went to get lunch a bit earlier. One of the places we tried to go on the first day was Madrid's Loving Hut however the opening times on Happy Cow were wrong and they were closed.  But this time we were prepared and went when they were open.  When I'd attempted to do a bit of research I came across a blog post about Madrid's Loving Hut and the writer described it as one of the nicest that she'd been too and I have to agree it was light and airy and I loved the pictures of famous vegans and vegetarians on the wall.

They were offering a day menu for £10.50, which included bread, starter, main, dessert and a drink. However on our first visit I was determined to try something from the main menu so I went for a seaweed and pineapple curry with soya cutlets.

I was a bit confused at first as the soya cutlets look a lot like aubergine, but on tasting they hadn't got my order wrong. It was nice, but I was starting to regret not ordering the day menu like everyone else.  Of course, when your in a vegan place, it's the law to have dessert even if you're full to bursting. I originally ordered the Loving Hut chocolate cake, but they had sold out, so I ended up with chocolate ice cream.

This was amazingly chocolaty and rich with chocolate sauce and peanut pieces and definitely didn't feel like I was missing out.

We visited the Loving Hut again on the last day, and this time I went with the day menu, although as it was a public holiday the day menu was slightly more expensive at 13.50 Euro. For starter I had a cabbage salad, which was nice, however it was still just a salad and I was hoping that they were still serving the spinach hummus they had as a starter on our first visit. However, I was pleased that one of the options for the main was the tofu and seitan curry that I was jealous of.

This was truly delicious and the texture of the seitan was spot on. For dessert I went for the chocolate mousse.

Unfortunately this contained banana, and as I'm not a fan of banana it spoilt it a little, however the other flavours were strong enough to mask most of the banana taste but I still got a hint of it now and again. I also tried a bit of the vanilla flan that was also one of the dessert options on the day menu and that was more like a custard and tasted of cinnamon, lemon and vanilla and was really good too.

Going on holiday with three omnivores and one veggie meant that this was it in terms of visiting specific veggie and vegan places and the rest of the holiday consisted of visiting and Italian (cheese-less pizza) and an Indian as well as two veggie friendly places which I'll write about next time,

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