Wednesday, April 15, 2009

apologies and short delay!

hi everyone! just a quick note to let you all know that my computer crashed late last week and most of my hard drive has been wiped out. while I work on installing a new hard drive and seeing what, if anything, I can recover from the old one, I'll have to delay blogging. I know that I still owe you all posts about Belfast, England, and the give-away! Those, and more will be coming up as soon as I can manage. In the meantime, please send positive computer vibes my way- I need them!


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

copenhagen and malmö!

After Berlin, Ditte and I flew to her hometown of Copenhagen. I was so excited to see Denmark for the first time. Unfortunately, I came down with a wicked cold at the end of our stay in Berlin and by the time we got to Copenhagen, I could barely breathe. A lot of our site-seeing had to be cancelled and instead Ditte and her lovely partner had to take care of a sick Bazu passed out on her couch! So a lot of this post is going to be about lovely vegan homecooking. And you know what? When you're traveling through Scandinavia in the dead of winter, a little warm food at home can be the most healing and wonderful thing ever!

European vegans are spoiled for choice when it comes to various sandwich spreads! Above you see some slices of hearty brown bread with, clockwise from bottom, Tartex "liverwurst", Streich, vegan cream cheese, and a roasted red pepper spread.

Lovely winter breakfast: a big bowl of berry oatmeal. That is the pinkest oatmeal I've ever had!

Homemade soup with deep-fried tofu.

All this wonderful nourishment (and a lot of sleep!) helped me be able to get out of the house by my third day. And oh my goodness- if there is one thing worth leaving the house for, it's freshly baked vegan chocolate croissants, am I right? These were heavenly. I'm ashamed of how many I ate in my few days in Copenhagen...

We went to Ditte's friend Asla's house, and boy was I in luck, because Asla had just made a fresh batch of a classic Danish dish, pictured above. This was warm øllebrød (beer bread) bread pudding, a holiday dish that is indescribable. It's a dark rye bread pudding made with a special kind of beer:

This Christmas brew is sweet and very very low in alcohol. It makes for an amazing bread pudding- a deep and complex flavor, accentuated with a bit of sugar on top. I crave this all the time now, but where to find Danish Christmas beer???

Part of Ditte's job is running a soup kitchen of sort. She cooks a big vegan feast, and people can come and eat whatever they want and donate whatever they can. I was so happy to be able to help her out, it was fun working together, and I got invaluable experience in cooking large batches of food in a commercial kitchen.

We made a wintry roasted veggie salad.

Ditte cooked several big loaves of bread.

And we made a big sweet potato soup, and some rice to go on the side. It was so cool to make the food, and then sit down with everyone and eat the yummy results!

By the end of the week, I was feeling all better, so we were able to arrange a meet-up in Malmö, a southern Swedish city that is a short train ride from Copenhagen. I was really happy to get a chance to go back to Sweden (after my trip to Stockholm to visit my uncle the previous month), but extra excited because of who we were meeting up with...

Vegbitch!! That's right, everyone's favorite Swedish vegan, Emmie, and her wonderful partner Alex showed us around Malmö. In the above photo, from left to right, you see Alex, Emmie, Ditte, and me.

The first thing we did was check out Astrid & aporna, a huge health food store with a most intriguing selection of goods. Above, you see vegan lobster. !!!! Realistic, eh?

Ah, the wiley and elusive vegan ham tube. Have you ever seen so many?

I remembered loving these Tofuline ice cream bars, but had never tried this flavor before: pear! It was good, even on a freezing day.

For fun, we then visited a store selling American things, like the cans of pumpkin, above. It gave me a tiny bit of homesickness, seeing "normal" American grocery items in an exotic context.

We checked out a Polish supermarket, where we found soy chicken cutlets, above. (How weird for an American and a Dane to go to Sweden to meet up with a Swede and a Briton, only to go to a Polish market to buy vegan goods... ah, globalization...)

For lunch, we went to Vegegården, a mostly vegan (some vegetarian items) restaurant that had an all-you-can-eat buffet. We were spoiled for choice!

Here's a rather cloudy shot of my (first) plate. There were lots of fresh fruits and veggies, rice and noodles of all kinds, mock meats of all kinds, and dessert.

After lunch and some more walking around, we sat down at an Espresso House, which is a chain of coffee shops. After double-checking that their mocha mix was vegan, we ordered these soy mocha lattes- they hit the spot!

Did I mention that this was the first time I saw snow while staying in Europe? Pretty good for a displaced Syracusean! I want to thank Ditte for showing me such great hospitality and caring for me when I was sick. I want to thank Emmie and Alex for meeting up with us and showing us around for a day of fun and conversation (and good food!). I think staying with local vegans and forming friendships is such a privilege, and pretty much the best part of traveling. I was glad to be feeling better, because soon it was time to leave Copenhagen to go back to London and on to Belfast from there...

To see all my Copenhagen and Malmö photos, click here.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Bryant Terry: Vegan Soul Kitchen

Last year, I attended a "Food and Justice" symposium at Syracuse University. There, I got to hear scholars, writers, food activists, and people from all kinds of backgrounds discuss the intersections of food and justice. There was so much to think about- the availability of fresh produce. Fair prices for small farmers. The cost of organic foods. The best way to get food into the hands of those who need it. Preserving heirloom seeds and varieties. Food education. Nutrition. Politics. In short, it was a bit overwhelming!

Bryant Terry is a chef and activist who is deeply involved in all these same issues. As he says in his book, the best way to engage with people on some of the deepest ethical and philosophical issues is through grub. Good, delicious, simple GRUB. The way to our hearts and minds is through our stomachs after all! I think most of us who blog understand this on a deep level- every time we talk about a delicious organic strawberry or some local asparagus or a vegan dessert, we are appealing to the appetite, but also appealing to a shared sense that there is a better way to eat.

I received a review copy of Terry's second book, Vegan Soul Kitchen, which gives us plenty of ways to eat better- better for our bodies, for the animals, for the earth, and for the producers of sustainable food. In this book, he gives traditional African-American and soul food recipes that are not only vegan, but also based on a whole foods philosophy. You won't find processed or packaged foods here, but you will find plenty of deliciousness.

Case in point, his recipe for Roasted Plantains with Roasted Garlic Lime Dipping Sauce. While this dish is meant as an appetizer, it fed the two of us (along with some tofu and couscous) as dinner tonight. The plantains came out crispy and savory, while the dipping sauce was brimming with fresh and tart flavors, a perfect counterpart. I can't wait to cook more with this book, especially as summer's abundant local produce comes in. Bryant Terry is a man after my own heart- there is a whole section of the book dedicated to watermelon! Get this book if you want to give fresh, local, and seasonal food a twist- who knows, you might change a few hearts and minds along the way.


Saturday, April 04, 2009


Ok, this post is gigantic. What can I say. Berlin is my favorite city in the world, and it's a vegan/green living mecca. In exchange for posting tons of photos, I will not use any words. If you want specific information about anything or any place you see, feel free to ask me. For comprehensive vegan Berlin information, look at this post on the PPK, where Sarahbean and Mihl posted hugely valuable information. Their lists were basically our guides! And, I got to meet so many awesome vegans and bloggers on this trip, including Mihl and Ditte. This was an amazing trip. Berlin, ich liebe dich!

latté made with soy milk

munching on a hawaii burger at yo-yo

jojo enjoys one of our many many cupcakes from Cupcake (yes, jojo from Brighton)

yes, vegetarian doner!

vegan gummi bears- seriously addictive

yet another Soyamilchkaffee

lemon cupcake!

apple tart with vegan whipped cream

vegan brunch. plate 1 of many...

our group came from 5 different cities and most of us crashed together- so fun!

yay photobooths!

Mihl & bazu, about to enjoy some fine German beer

Sudanese vegan food.

you heard me right.

another vegan restaurant, co-owned by an Iranian-German lady. um. vegan Iranian German food.

you heard me right.

^ this is where you find it. It's in the Kreuzberg neighborhood.

Berlin has many, many healthfood stores, including an all-vegan supermarket! Above you see that Germans have a huge selection of veggie spreads and pates to choose from


and hot dog at Hot Dog Soup. That's what they serve!

Lots of different hot dogs, including hawaii dog, above.

the last 3 remaining Berlin revelers, right before leaving our hostel room...

This post didn't even scratch the surface! The one thing everyone can agree that Berlin is is OVERWHELMING. you can see the rest of my photos from this trip here.


let's get this blog back on the road!

Bijou looks on disapprovingly at my lack of blogging.

Ok, I've been playing the catch-up game forever! Because of my slowness to post about my travels in Europe, I've also been neglecting the here and now- resulting in a huge blogging backlog which of course makes me afraid to do anything! So resolved, as of today, a schedule for getting this blog back on the road:
  • Saturday, April 4 - Berlin
  • Monday, April 6 - Review of Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen
  • Wednesday, April 8 - Copenhagen and Malmö
  • Friday, April 10 - Belfast
  • Sunday, April 12 - England odds and ends
  • Tuesday, April 14 - Drawings for 3 prizes, from among those who kindly donated to my charity sky dive way back in September- I have not forgotten!
I'm making myself stick to this schedule, and so you can be sure to see all these posts shortly! For all you lovely people who have been gently prodding me in the right direction- thank you!

Bijou says "I'll believe it when I see it."