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October 24, 2010

Vegan in Spain, part 2 (and Amsterdam)

Where were we? Oh right, Cartagena, Spain. After we caught some z's we were up and on the road again. We were headed to our final destination in Spain, the city of Valencia. On the way we stopped to check out the beach in Alicante, and grab some lunch. I had a vegetarian restaurant lined up, but my friend was not up to trying another meatless restaurant after the Loving Hut experience, so she left me and walked around the area to find some tapas. The restaurant that I dined at is called L'Indret.

L'Indret is open for lunch only, offering a 4 course daily set menu with 2 choices per course. The price is 11 euro and includes a bottle of water or a personal size bottle of wine. I explained to my server that I am vegan and she confirmed that everything on the menu for the day was vegan, hoorah! She pointed out that there was some yogurt on the salad bar to watch out for. The choice for the first course is always either fresh carrot juice or the salad bar. I went for the salad bar, and piled up a plate with greens, beets, corn, cucumbers, olives, sprouted lentils, whole wheat noodles, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast (!). So wonderful! For the second time being exposed to a salad bar in Spain I again noticed that they don't offer much for dressings. There was some thick soy based dressing (I assume it was dressing, but they did point it out as being soy based), so I put some on the side a mixed a bit in to wet the contents of the salad. It was pretty plain but it did the trick. Perhaps they aren't big on dressing over there?

I had a hard time translating the two choices being offered for the second course--I could tell that one was an Indian spiced soup of some kind but I had no clue what the other was. Feeling adventurous I went for the unknown, which turned out to be vegetable barley stew. What you see here is a giant bowl of barley, mushrooms, green beans, onions, and barley in a hearty broth. It was delicious but very filling--I only ate about half so I would have room for the next two courses.

I pulled out my pocket dictionary to help translate the two choices for the main course, but it didn't end up helping me at all. I made a random choice, which turned out to be a pan-fried croquette of beans and veggies with a crunchy exterior smothered in a brown gravy. The side was a rich creamy cabbage casserole of sorts. The croquette with gravy was amazing, but I would kill for that cabbage recipe.. oh my word! I really can't even begin to imagine what is in it other than the cabbage. Trust me, if I knew how to ask what was in it I would have!

No sooner than I cleaned my plate, my server was back telling me about the numerous vegan dessert options. There were several cakes, soy puddings, and some others I am not remembering now. The cakes sounded good to me, so I asked her which was better, the chocolate or the espresso cake. She suggested trying a half slice of each, win! These cakes were very European, not super sweet like cakes tend to be in the US, and the icing was very pudding-like. This dessert was the perfect ending to the best meal that I ate in Spain. I so wish that this was the vegetarian restaurant that my friend tried with me instead of Loving Hut, because this is how it is done, my friends!

After lunch we took a walk on the beach and took a few photos by the water and the castle. We asked a girl to take a photo of us together, and the result was one of the most hilarious photos from the trip. We think she was a little distracted and cropped out the castle by mistake. Not sure what distraction I am talking about? Click the photo to make it larger, you can't miss it!

The water was great, it was like a warm bath! That surprised me for late September, but I guess that is how the Mediterranean is since there aren't ocean currents coming in to cool it down. Too bad we didn't have time to go for a swim! Back on the road we went for the final leg of our coastal tour of southern Spain.

Views from the car - Alicante to Valencia
We stayed at Becca's friends' house in Valencia, and when we arrived there was a pitcher of sangria waiting for us. The drive had been very exciting, but we were both ready to stay put for a couple of days. Our hosts were wonderful, they took us around the city to museums and the Valencia Cathedral. They also took us for paella, the famous Spanish rice dish that originated in Valencia. Paella is cooked outdoors on large coal burning grills in gigantic iron skillets. We had to jump into a photo to illustrate how large the dish is.

The traditional paella includes rabbit, snails, chicken, and vegetables as pictured above, but they made a vegetarian serving with just the veggies for me. It is hard to see all of the good stuff in this photo, but there were fava beans, Italian green beans, and artichokes. Scrumptious! I plan to recreate this dish soon.

I may have made it look easy to eat vegan in Spain, but it isn't the most vegan-friendly country. They love ham, and they love to hang cured slabs of it from the ceiling in restaurants. When we went to tapas restaurants there were only two dishes that I could order: pan con tomate (bread with tomatoes) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes, ask for no mayonnaise). I had planned to eat a steady diet of gazpacho, but unfortunately it was out of season and I didn't even get to try it once. So sad! Eating vegan in Spain is not impossible, but I do recommend doing your research ahead of time.

As for Amsterdam, it is in parenthesis in the title of this post because I don't have much to share. We were there for 24 hours, and aside from visiting the Anne Frank house we spent most of our time just walking around exploring the various neighborhoods. It is such a charming place, despite its reputation, I would have loved to have more time there. We only went out for one meal in Amsterdam. I had several vegan options picked out to try but my friend wasn't up for it, so we went for our compromise food: Indian! I forgot to photograph my food or take note of the name of the restaurant, oops. End of the trip, what can I say? Know that there are many great looking options for vegans in Amsterdam, many more than in all of the cities I visited in Spain combined. I hope to return to Amsterdam someday and experience it more thoroughly.

That concludes my 9 day multi-city adventure, thanks for reading along!

If you want to visit L'Indret in Alicante (and you should!) the restaurant address is: C/ GarcĂ­a Morato, 5, 03004 Alicante, Spain


  1. Hello! Ummm, can we say jealous!? Your trip looks like it has been so amazing! I just came across your blog from another vegan blog :) I already love it! Thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us! We are a vegan family as well, I like to share some recipes too :) It's a great life style that I love sharing with other people. Come stop by if you would like! Have a great rest of your trip!


  2. Lovely photos! Your trip looks like it was amazing.

  3. i love reading all about your travels - especially all the yummy vegan eats you find. good call on doing your research for vegan options before hand, that's pretty cool that there were some because i've had people tell me that if i traveled it would be impossible to remain vegan. i figured some places are more vegan friendly than others, but there is always an option of some sort - and it looks like you found many delicious ones! the paella pan is HUGE - so awesome that they made a veggie one for you, and sangria, too. mmmmmmmmm! very cool on the lunch spot having an all vegan menu that day - and i love that she suggested trying 1/2 of those desserts you wanted. yay! i could see the distraction in the photo without having to blow it up - that's sooooo funny and i totally laughed out loud! thanks again for sharing your stories & photos with us, Sarah!

  4. I am loving your vacation updates! Looks like you are having so much fun, eating lots of goodies, and I am JEALOUS!!! SIgh, I need a vacation!

  5. I hate when non-vegans have a bad experience :-( There's so much great stuff out there!

  6. Wow, what a great description of your adventures and food. I'm always curious how easy it is for vegans to eat when they travel. Thanks for giving us a glimpse.

  7. It looks like a wonderful trip. The one photo is a riot, thanks for sharing it. ;-) I wonder why the picture taker got distracted, LOL. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.


  8. I loved seeing these photos. Randy and I honeymooned in Spain and we had an amazing trip. Being veg and not vegan made it a lot easier to eat, although I ate just about the same thing everyday - gazpacho and tortilla for lunch and veg paella for dinner. It was fine with me though because it was delicious! Too bad you didn't get Indonesian food in Amsterdam. It is to die for!

  9. I like the imagery from Cartagena, Spain - Its nice to hear about other Vegetarians, Vegans and Fruitarians in Spain and their adventures.

    There are some good places you can get vegetarian food in Spain and even in the difficult places - I found that communication is key in any restaurants - If you can get it across to the chef about what you want exactly then even in a non-veg restaurant you can get what you require.



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