Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Saturday, 1 November, was world vegan day, and Daiku and I got to celebrate it in style by meeting up with a bunch of awesome people in perhaps England's most vegan city: Brighton! People came from as far afield as London and even the Netherlands for this day. We shopped for vegan shoes at Vegetarian Shoes, saw the sites, went antiquing, and I even got to see an original Banksy! But above all, we ate.

First, the Brighton kids took us out-of-towners to Infinity market, one of the biggest and best health food stores I've ever seen. I stocked up on nutritional yeast (I didn't know I'd miss it so much!) and other essentials. The best part was their bakery had fresh-baked scones (pictured above) and Chelsea buns. This was my first time getting to taste these British delicacies and they were so good!

Here's Jojo holding up... vegan haggis! I just had to get it (it gets its own post, coming soon!)

Next, we headed to The George, a vegan and vegetarian pub! How cool is that- this was the first time I got to go to a pub and order anything other than chips. But first, I passed out some American vegan goodies- oreos, sour patch kids, and tings!

Ok, if you were at a restaurant and their special for the day was the Elvis burger- a veggie burger with cheese, peanut butter and banana- wouldn't you order it? Most of us did! And you know what? It was actually really good!

Daiku ordered the mushroom and ale pie, which turned out to be huge- and very satisfying.

Next, we headed over to Infinity Café, for hot drinks. I thought, since I'd already had an Elvis burger, not to mention a scone AND a chelsea bun, that I was full, but then this fudgey chocolate cake caught my eye. Who can say no to vegan dessert? Not me! Our party also tried their almond cake and some other delicacies- all very well prepared and extremely tasty.

Even though it was a blistery and rainy day, we all had so much fun! To see other photos from this meet-up, take a look at my Brighton flickr set.


Monday, December 01, 2008

happy december!

Whew- I didn't realize that I was taking a bit of a blogging hiatus, but there you have it- a month sort of flew by. But, I can promise you that in the coming days, you can expect posts about a month's worth of traveling and vegan eating (of course!) in the following cities:
  • Brighton
  • Lille
  • Ghent
  • Berlin
  • Copenhagen
  • Malmö
  • Belfast
  • London
It's been a whirlwind month, and I'm so grateful for all the friends who made my travels possible. And now, I'm grateful to be sorting through the photos and notes and getting ready to blog about it all!


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

live-blogging election day

5:05 p.m. GMT, 12:05 p.m. EST

I'm way too excited to sit still, so I thought I'd channel some of my energy into live blogging the election. It's especially difficult here in England, because we are already coming up on night, and don't yet have too much news, so the fingernails are quite stubby by now, as you can imagine....

As I've mentioned in this blog before, I have voted for Barack Obama. This is the 3rd time in my life that I'm eligible to vote for president, and the 1st time that I have voted for a major party (having voted Green in 2000 and 2004.) It might be interesting to know how it feels to back someone who wins!

5:41 p.m. GMT, 12:41 p.m. EST

My ballot was cast in California, and Daiku's in New York, two states the reliably tend to swing blue. However, we have family in two very hotly contested swing states- Missouri and Virginia. I'll be looking closely at those states- anyone else voting there? I have heard reports of long lines in VA, some places where it took people over 4 hours in line before they could vote. I only had to mail in an absentee ballot. I take off my hat to everyone who has endured any difficulties in physically voting today.

Being in England for the most heated parts of the election has been a blessing and a curse. It's difficult to feel so detached from the process back home, but such a relief to be away from the 24-hour news cycle and some of the more vicious aspects of the election.

6:44 p.m. GMT, 1:44 p.m. EST


2004: I lived in Irvine. I had no t.v. I remember going to the gym on election night to try to see a bit of news. And then, at home, I remember waiting up until all hours of the night, constantly hitting the "reload" button, hoping against all hope the the Ohio tallies would start bearing positive news. Alas, they never did. I wore black to teach the next day.

2000: I lived in New York City. I came home straight away after work, excited to watch the results. My mom and I had just voted for Ralph Nader that morning, and I remember being very encouraged that he would get the 5% of votes needed to ensure federal funding for the Green party. Then the election took a turn for the weird... at around 3 a.m. I realized I wouldn't be finding out results that night. Gore lost. Nader didn't hit 5%. Who knew then that a terrifyingly traumatizing 8 years had just begun?

one way or another, I guess I'm destined to stay up late on election nights!

8:24 p.m. GMT, 3:24 p.m. EST

Even though the presidential race seems to eclipse all the other ones, there are of course many other important races and issues that people are voting about today. One of those, an issue close to my heart, is a ballot initiative in CA that would ban cruel confinement of farm animals. (Proposition 2) This would be such a landmark law, since changes to the agricultural industry in CA, due to its sheer size, could not help but have a ripple effect. Another, which I voted against, is Prop. 8, an initiative that would seek to limit marriage only to those between men and women. What's even sadder is that 3 other states have anti-gay measures on the ballot too. (including Arkansas, which is seeking to make it illegal for gay couples to adopt children). In a world where so many children desperately await adoption, I find that last measure especially crass and mean-spirited. Here's something interesting to ponder. CA legalized interracial marriages before the U.S. supreme court. Talk about "activist judges"! Back then, 96% (NINETY-SIX!!!) of Americans were against people marrying from different races. Today, only about 50% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. Makes you think, huh?

11 p.m. GMT, 6 p.m. EST

the earliest polls are closing now! let's get this show on the road! now it feels like something really is happening.

11:22 p.m. GMT, 6:22 p.m. EST

we just heard from a relative in Georgia. apparently, someone left a dead cat by her Obama sign. this happened to some of their neighbors too. it's gut-wrenching, and so wrong on so many levels.

12:05 a.m. GMT, 7:05 p.m. EST

Finally, the BBC has started broadcasting election news! The first results were not too surprising, VT for Obama, KY for McCain. Interestingly, MO seems to be a stalwart swing state- no one is calling it one way or another yet! My mother-in-law, in Missouri, said that they've gotten 3 phone calls and a flier, all reminding them to vote, all from the Obama campaign. The organization of his campaign is so reassuring. She also said that a worker at a local polling place was illegally demanding 2 instead of 1 form of ID, but that he was quickly booted from his job. Yay, progress!

12:21 a.m. GMT, 7:21 p.m. EST

Chris Hitchens was just on the BBC, calling the McCain campaign "cheap, nasty, sordid."

12:25 a.m. GMT, 7:25 p.m. EST

The BBC is showing people gathering in Chicago, anticipating a celebration. the sense of excitement is so palpable!
It just occurred to me how privileged Daiku and I are that all of our friends and family are politically in sync. Frankly, I don't know how I'd deal with someone close to me who saw it fit to vote for McCain right now.

12:31 a.m. GMT, 7:31 p.m. EST

North Carolina, Ohio, and W. Virginia just closed. The fact that W.Virginia is not even projecting immediate results is itself telling. Tellingly awesome.

12:40 a.m. GMT, 7:40 p.m. EST

It is so weird to be watching an election without a t.v. and without American news! Apparently, U.S. networks are calling W. Virgina for McCain, but the BBC, in its imminent conservatism, is holding out. Calm and measured. At least we get to hear Rick Gervais talking about Obama here- a definite plus!
Ohio is especially close to my heart. We have friends from there who were election monitors in 2004, and the stories of voter fraud and disenfranchisement that they tell are bone-chilling. Let's right that wrong, OH!

12:57 a.m. GMT, 7:57 p.m. EST

how weird that the
NY Times (top) is saying Obama is leading in SC while the BBC (bottom) is calling SC for McCain?...


1:04 a.m. GMT, 8:04 p.m. EST

PA for Obama!!!!

1:23 a.m. GMT, 8:23 p.m. EST

well, here's something you don't see every day! (I know, I know, it's ephemeral, but let's revel in the novelty, shall we?)

NYTimes Map, projecting an Obama lead (!!) in TX

1:36 a.m. GMT, 8:36 p.m. EST

bazu rides the Tube, London, November 2008

1:52 a.m. GMT, 8:52 p.m. EST

was it just me, or did the BBC anchor just refer to New Hampshire as North Hampshire? Ha- it's late at night, we'll give him a pass.

2:36 a.m. GMT, 9:36 p.m. EST

I don't know how much longer I can stay awake! I'm still biting my nails over VA and MO- so far it doesn't look like Obama will win either. That will be a bummer for many of my family and friends! Ohio for Obama, though! Yessss. Louisiana just went to McCain. Sad and telling. How sad that the Republicans helped wipe New Orleans to the ground, and now the state goes to the GOP, once again.

According to a commentator on the BBC just now "fundamentally, America remains a center-right nation." That is truly sad. Somehow, as good as this looks for Obama, this is not shaping up to be the landslide that many of us had dared hope for. It seems that things are too entrenched for real surprises over any given election cycle. This is sad too. Very bittersweet evening.

2:47 a.m. GMT, 9:47 p.m. EST

I just had a mini-meltdown, brought on by sleep loss. I incorrectly though I saw that CA had passed its ban on gay marriage and I freaked out: "Oh noooo! I can't believe CA banned gay marriage! I can't believe it! Ellen and Portia are null and void! Ellen and Portia had a vegan wedding!!! Noooo!" Fortunately, I was wrong, but hopefully that gave you a glance into my addled brain right now! There is still hope. Come on, CA.

2:52 a.m. GMT, 9:52 p.m. EST

as I live and breathe: I just saw the BBC anchor shut down John Bolton, because he was "chattering away as [they were] trying to talk to people in Florida. Suck it, John Bolton! Seriously, though, Bolton is a huge symbol of the Bush years, someone who took the W administration's bellicosity to the United Nations, to our country's great shame. I'd like to see him, like GW, like the trauma of the last 8 years, disappear. Being smacked down by the BBC is a good start!

2:57 a.m. GMT, 9:57 p.m. EST

Obama just pulled ahead of McCain in VA!!! Go, VIRGINIA!! And he's also ahead in FL! GOBAMA!

3:12 a.m. GMT, 10:12 p.m. EST

Just saw Erica Jong and Eddie Izzard praising Obama on the BBC... the evening is getting surrealer and surrealer! Erica Jong used a very interesting term to refer to Obama "coolth" - talking about the aura of calm that he projects, that we are probably unconsciously all responding to. I understand that no politician, especially a mainstream politician, will be ideal, and we will have opportunities to become disillusioned with Obama in due time, but for now, I'm with much of the world in believing in him, and believing in the opportunity that he covers the U.S. and the world.

3:20 a.m. GMT, 10:20 p.m. EST

John Bolton continues to make an ass of himself, lashing out at the BBC, yelling like a cornered animal. He needs to get off the world stage. Now.

historian Simon Schama (left), trying not to punch John Bolton (right) on the BBC

3:31 a.m. GMT, 10:31 p.m. EST

What does a vegan eat while nervously watching election results? A delicious potato-spinach dip, inspired by a Yellow Rose tester recipe. I just recently finally found nutritional yeast here in the U.K., and I'm taking full advantage of it. There is some champagne* chilling in the fridge. Life is good.

*cheap sparkling wine from Tesco

Other exciting election results I'm watching: Elizabeth Dole is gone! Her dirty campaign apparently did nothing for her. It looks like Al Franken is in the lead for the senate seat in Minnesota! That is amazing. Losses for negative campaigns all around.

3:36 a.m. GMT, 10:36 p.m. EST

Is this a mistake...? This is the map of Utah on CNN right now... pure science fiction!

in what universe does Obama beat McCain in Utah 50%-48%??

3:41 a.m. GMT, 10:41 p.m. EST

This is looking really good in Virginia! Come on, VA, we're rooting for you! 2% lead for Obama, around 50,000 votes.

click on image for a bigger, clearer, picture

3:59 a.m. GMT, 10:59 p.m. EST

Looking down to the closing of the polls on the West Coast, and cinching this thing for Obama. I am, however, saddened that it looks as if anti-gay and anti-abortion measures seem to be passing in several states.

Dennis Kucinich on the BBC, talking about a new economic reality to come with Obama's presidency

4:01 a.m. GMT, 11:01 p.m. EST


Friday, October 31, 2008

lovely london blogging ladies

I can't believe it's the last day of VeganMoFo! This will be my 20th post for the month, meaning I barely eeked by with the minimum number of posts! (I did better last year, managing to blog every day for MoFo) It has been really fun, especially getting to read all of your blogs. And after this month is over, I'm not going anywhere. I'll still be blogging about being in England, traveling, eating well, and of course meeting awesome bloggers from all over the place. And today's post is dedicated to just that, 2 meet-ups with fellow bloggers that I've been very fortunate to have in the past week.

First up is Isil, of Veggie Way. I've always loved reading about her life as a vegan and a parent here in the U.K., and getting to see her lovely daughter Defne growing up.

She was such a cutie-pie-and she loves her veggies!

Isil suggested going to Wagamama, which made me very happy, because this chain of noodle shops is one I've always wanted to try, having heard about its awesome vegan food options. Above, you see Isil's soba ramen, which came in a big bowl packed with veggies and yummy broth.

And here's my huge plate of noodles- soba with a spicy chili sauce and veggies. This dish actually had a kick- I have to remind myself not to order spicy foods the first time I meet someone, because my nose has an embarassing way of running when I do...

Fortunately, we had our juices to soothe our mouths. Isil had carrot juice, and I had a mixture of apple, ginger, and passion fruit.

Afterward, we walked over to Covent Garden, over to Neal's Yard Salad Bar for vegan dessert!

This mostly vegetarian and vegan restaurant makes homemade vegan ice cream- ahhhh! The day's flavors were mango and chocolate, and since we couldn't decide between the two, we got them in swirl form. The chocolate was good, but the mango was divine! So fresh and tangy. I'll be sure to go back to this restaurant again, to take advantage of their vegan English breakfast offering and the veganized Brazilian specialties on the menu.

Then yesterday, I got to hang out with KathyF of What Do I Know? fame. Kathy has been so helpful to me, helping out a fellow vegan American get adjusted to life in England. Finally getting to meet was so fun! As you can see from the above business card, we had lunch at Rootmaster, a double-decker bus converted into a lovely vegan restaurant!

I kid you not.

The restaurant makes its own rustic bread, served here with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip.

Kathy had the chickpea fritters (in the back of the photo- I went about things backward, didn't I?) served with a side salad.

I had this mezze platter with guacamole (yum!), hummus (very smoky and good), bread, roasted veggies (courgette and red capsicum), sun-dried tomatoes, and last but not least, the prettiest olives ever. These babies were mild, buttery, toothsome,

...and pretty much the most technicolor green that I've ever seen on an olive. These were lovely and fun to share.

Before we finished our satisfying lunch and took a stroll through the National Gallery, I got to capture this money shot: a blogger's photo of a fellow blogger taking a photo. Ahhh, life is good.

I want to thank Isil and KathyF for taking the time to show me around London and for filling my tummy with exciting vegan foods! There is nothing like a bloggy meet-up to make you feel like everything is right with the world.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

random eats

Q: what do you get when you mix some noodles with some peanut sauce and spices, a whole lot of veggies and herbs,

and these really tasty VegiDeli brand Thai Style cakes?

A: A really satisfying faux-pad thai dish. Daiku and I both loved these noodles!

speaking of satisfying, talk about comfort food! heeding a serious craving for mashed potatoes, we decided to make this huge batch colcannon, the Irish dish of potatoes mashed with kale. To up the comfort-y factor, we were really generous with the margarine, and topped everything with a generous sprinkle of chopped chives. This was dinner- nothing more needed!

Here's a local Kentish specialty: cob nuts! These are grown right here around Canterbury, and nowhere else. (Or at least that's what the guy at the market said!) We picked up a bunch at the Eurofest that I blogged about earlier in the month...

... and then proceeded to realize that meant that we'd need to buy a nutcracker!

But it was totally worth it to get at these little suckers- cob nuts taste like a milder, sweeter fresh hazelnut- very addictive, and even better when roasted a bit. Yay for local food finds!

Finally, I couldn't resist posting this last photo, even though it's totally non-food-related. Even though we're in the U.K., Daiku and I both mailed in absentee ballots for next week's U.S. election. Here I am giving a "terrorist fist jab" to a giant sculpted fist in the British Museum, in case anyone had any doubts about who I'm rooting for for president...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

swedish good eats: countryside edition

After spending 2 days in Stockholm, my uncle took Daiku and me to his cabin in the woods, a couple of hours to the southwest. This was so fun! The cabin is big and beautiful, but also very rustic. It felt so good to sit around the fire the night we got there, getting warm and cozy while the temperatures outside fell.

That night, as Daiku and Daii (daii is the Farsi word for uncle) sat down to a dinner of various kinds of pickled herring and gravad lax (cured salmon) with potatoes, I constructed the most delicious sandwiches- tomato, potato, and avocado on whole grain bread. Now I know there's nothing remotely seasonal or Swedish about avocados (or tomatoes for that matter!), these sandwiches really hit the spot. Besides... we would more than make of with lots of local food shortly.

The next day, we headed outside into the crisp fall air to tend to the garden and grounds and help close them up for the winter. However, we were surprised to find that the garden had kept growing in the previous weeks! There were 3 giant zucchini, which had amazingly survived the cold.

Green beans galore!

Potatoes to be dug up!

Daiku found a whole field of chanterelles growing beneath some trees!

There were even some young garlic and onion buds still to be had!

Here we are getting all the last apples off from the apple tree- there were so many! We left some on the low branches in case any animals were to wander by and want to munch on them...

With all that surprise garden bounty, we made a feast of a meal, something that really hit the spot after a day of working outside. (Well, Daii worked outside while Daiku and I took frequent breaks to come in the house and warm up! We aren't acclimated to the cold temperatures as well as him!)

Here you see: green beans, blanched with a few onions and dressed simply with vinaigrette, zucchini, sauteed with some olive oil and tomatoes, and potatoes and peas (peas that my uncle had picked from the garden in the summer and frozen) cooked with chanterelles. We couldn't get enough of this meal!

Even dessert was local and home-grown- these sour cherries came from daii's tree over the summer- he froze these for us, knowing how much we love sour cherries!

It was such a cool experience to be eating this sumptuous meal, in a cozy warm cabin, with great company, even though outside, the world was getting ready for its long winter nap.