About Janessa

I'm a travelin' vegan gal, event planner & writer who loves eating, drinking, hiking, biking, reading, writing, loving, scheming, learning, laughing, champagne-ing and gerunds.

Vegan Mofo: Thyme Chocolate Bar


Hello and good morning! Welcome back to Monday’s Sweet Treats. Last week I shared with you the sweet and creamy peanut butter cookie milkshake from Cookies & Scream in London. This week we’re moving over the The Netherlands; to The Hague, the capital.

The Hague

The Hague


One of my best friends, Mireilla, was a foreign exchange student from Rotterdam to my tiny little high school in Cave Junction, Oregon back in 1997. We hit it off right away, and have kept in touch and seen each other occasionally since. This trip marked the first time I was able to visit her. She and her boyfriend hosted me for 10 days, and were the best hosts ever. Turns out things are a little different in the Netherlands; on your birthday YOU supply the cake, and when you host friends, you treat them. They were lovely wonderful hosts, and when I ventured into The Hague one day to explore, I stopped into a specialty tea shop to buy a thank you present.

 After I found some delightful tea blends, I came across a thyme, flax seed and quinoa crisp chocolate bar from the chocolate company Newtree. Sure enough, it’s vegan. There is no way I’d ever not buy a vegan chocolate bar with thyme in it. Duh.

bites from abroad

The taste is something altogether different. It takes a square or two to get used to, but then it gets seriously addictive. The crunchy quinoa and flecks of flax are a perfect balance to the herby fragrance of the thyme.  The thyme itself makes me think it’d be the perfect sweet bite after an Italian pasta dinner. Not that I gave it the chance; I basically ate it all within 2 days, furtively popping squares from my purse into my mouth for that elusive taste of sweet thyme chocolate.

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Vegan Mofo: Bon Vivant Cocktails in Edinburgh, Scotland

Happy Friday! Who need a cocktail? Luckily, It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere. For my Friday Vegan Mofo, I’ll be focusing on beverages–sometimes with alcohol, sometimes without.

Some of the most creative cocktails I have had the pleasure to sample on this trip were at Bon Vivant, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bon Vivant craft cocktails in Edinburgh, Scotland

Bon Vivant craft cocktails in Edinburgh, Scotland

I’ve been typically sticking to beer or wine, but my travel companions and I had heard from several different sources that Bon Vivant on Thistle Street is THE place to go for quality craft cocktails. My friend Dave, who recommended the place to me, compared it to Teardrop in Portland, Oregon. Sold. (Teardrop is the place where I tried a specialty bourbon cocktail with smoked ice cubes a few years back. SMOKED ICE CUBES.)


The menu, which changes seasonally, is overwhelmingly intriguing; I wanted to try one of everything. In addition to the multiple page menu, they also have an extensive champagne and bubbly list. If I had my druthers, and bottomless pockets, I would have stayed for several cocktails and a few bottles of bubbles. As it was, we each picked just one to sample.

The Volunteer @ Bon Vivant

The Volunteer at Bon Vivant

My drink of choice was The Volunteer: Gentleman Jack, Ardbeg 10yr Scotch, Noval Port, demerara syrup, chocolate bitters and an orange twist. Scotch is not usually a palate-pleaser for me, but the precisely measures liquor and mixers led to a pleasantly round and full-bodied drink, with a touch of sweetness from the orange and finished with just a slightly peaty taste from the scotch. When I’m in places where I know I can trust the menu and the bartenders to put care into each cocktail, like Bon Vivant, I’m more likely to step out of my comfort zone and order somethinglike this. And I’m usually rewarded, as I was in this case.

*Note, some cocktails are made with egg white, so take care when reading the menu.

Bon Vivant

55 Thistle Street


Open Mon–Sun noon–1am

Vegan Mofo: Pizza n’ Pasta


Hi guys! Happy Mofo-ing! Welcome to ‘Round the World Thursdays, in which I showcase food or drinks I’ve consumed in a plethora of places.

Here’s a little secret: I love pasta. If you told me I would get a perfectly balanced diet by only eating tacos, popcorn and pasta, I would be perfectly content for life. Give me noodles in some kind of sauce, and I will not get bored. Ever.

So in cities or countries where it’s been hard to find vegan food, either in the grocery store or in restaurants, a lot of time I’ll fall back on pasta. Throw in a cheeseless pizza (or vegan cheese when available, because I like my pizzas with cheeeeese) from time to time, and you’ve got an ideal fallback for many meals.

thank goodness for carbs and sauce

thank goodness for sauce and carbs


The meals shown above range from raw beet and cashew cheese ravioli (Coach and Horses Pub, London, top right) to a vegan pepperoni Turkish pizza (Brno, Czech Republic, middle center) to an Indian-style spaghetti made for me by an amorous restaurant owner in Novi Sad, Serbia (bottom right).

And Vietnam is no exception, actually. Most restaurants, even with a vegetable section, add fish sauce to dishes and the language barrier is sometimes too hard to overcome. Plus a lot of Vietnamese restaurants seem to have a small pizza and/or pasta section (Heck yeah). So when Happy Cow doesn’t show a vegan or vegetarian establishment close by, I’ll frequently opt for spaghetti (no butter, no parmesan).

As I’ve thought numerous times on this trip: I’m so thankful my stomach is forgiving when I eat copious amounts of wheat and soy. At home in Portland, I usually opt for gluten-free noodles and rarely eat soy (unless it’s tofu), but I would have a harder time traveling if I didn’t have those options available to me.



Spaghetti in Phu Quoc (mysteriously garnished with a mint leaf) (which I ate, and it was good)

Spaghetti in Phu Quoc (mysteriously garnished with a mint leaf) (which I ate, and it was good)


Side Note: I thought I’d lose weight when I started traveling because I wouldn’t have access to ALL THE VEGAN FOOD that I eat in Portland, plus I’d be drinking less and walking more. But it turns out that I still really like to eat pasta, bread, ice cream, corn nuts, and I still love my wine spritzers. Go figure. Food’s the best.


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Vegan Mofo: Osprey Travel Backpack



Wacky Wednesday is when I write about something that might not be food related, but still travel-related. Probably. It is wacky, afterall. Anything can happen.


For the first one, I’m going to to share with you the best travel backpack I’ve ever used: the Farpoint Osprey 55.

If I have to have all my worldly possessions to my back, this is the backpack I want to use.

If I have to have all my worldly possessions to my back, this is the backpack I want to have.


The backpack is 50 liters, with a detachable 5 liter day backpack. Along with packing cubes (potentially a future Wacky Wednesday post), this was my best purchase for my extended mini RTW trip.

It’s super comfy, has fit into carry-on on every plane I’ve tried (saving me money, especially in the US with much stricter checked baggage rules than the countries I traveled in Europe and SE Asia) and is much roomier than it looks.



Fits everywhere!*    *almost

Fits everywhere!*


If you’re planning to travel for any trip longer than a week and less than 6 months (though I am fairly certain this backpack would last for even 12 months + trips), I 100% recommend this backpack. It has held up remarkably well, especially considering how hard I am on physical objects. There’s no fraying, the zippers are all still attached, and it still looks almost new. If I was really on top of things, I’d be an Amazon affiliate and have a link here, but I’m not, so if you’re interested, head to Amazon or REI or Osprey’s webpage and look around. The two blog posts I read that really sold me are TravelFashion Girl (a GREAT resource for travelin’ gals) and Answering Oliver.


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