One Night in Bratislava

 

The capital of Slovakia, and its biggest city, Bratislava lies on the Danube, just an hour from Vienna and two and a half hours from Budapest. It’s a small picturesque town in Eastern Europe, and one I was looking forward to spending a few days in. While in Brno (Czech Republic) I heard from every single traveler that I came across (no exaggeration) that one night in Bratislava was more than enough. Some people had even changed their travel plans to move on without staying even one night. I knew it couldn’t be that blasé, and I’m drawn to small sleepy towns sometimes more than large cities, but I was really enjoying my time in Brno so extended my stay, cutting back into my Bratislava time. My original three nights in Bratislava were reduced to one.

Which way to the wine?

Which way to the wine?

 

The town center is a 20 minute walk from the bus station. Hostel Mansard, where I stayed, was centrally located. It made exploring a breeze. The only breeze I’d see that day, as Bratislava’s sun beat down on my skin, freckling my already too-pink sunburn.

Bratislava is a surprisingly vegan-friendly city. As I headed into town I passed a sign for a cafe that looked like it’d have vegan options, so I looped back after checking in.

Veggie Wraps sign

Veggie Wraps. It’s a sign.

 

The basic menu includes 4 wraps, 3 of which were vegan. Score.

I ordered The London Wrap–made of spicy beans, robi meat, tomato, cucumber, lettuce and parsley in a whole wheat tortilla. The small portion is half a wrap, and only 2 euros (about $2.65 US). It was filling and hearty and actually had vegetables, sometimes a rarity in Eastern Europe, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It also contained robi, a Czech vegan meat product made out of beetroot and cereal grains. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I wasn’t scared–I had tried it in Brno, and it was delicious; not quite as chewy as seitan, with a deep flavor and a meatier texture than tofu.

(Tofu Mom, look away now.)

London Wrap and English Menu at Veggie

London Wrap and English Menu at Veggie

 

Properly fueled, I was ready to explore the city. After walking up the steep hill to Bratislava Castle during the heat of the day, I wandered around the outer gates, alternately worrying I hadn’t been successful in my sunscreen search yet and being amazed by the sights.

“This view is so pretty!”

“I hope I’m not getting skin cancer.”

“Oh look, a castle!!”

“Shit. I’m sure I’m getting skin cancer.”

 

View of Bratislava from Bratislava Castle

View of Bratislava from Bratislava Castle

 

Slowly turning into one giant freckle

Slowly turning into one giant freckle

 

In the end, I wore my sandals out that day, flip-flopping my feet around Bratislava and working up even more freckles and a large appetite. For dinner, I already knew where I was headed: Lucy’s Vegan Food, a vegan and gluten-free bistro, was located close to the bus station and though they had a small menu, it all looked good. I knew I wanted to try them out and support an all-vegan restaurant in Bratislava.

 

Lucy's Vegan Food

Lucy’s Vegan Food

 

Lucy’s is open from 11 am to 3 pm for lunch, closed in the afternoon for prepping and baking, and open again for dinner from 5 pm to 8 pm. I arrived shortly after 5, the first guest to arrive. Tim and Lucy, the owners, chatted with me while I ordered. Tim is from Canada and Lucy is from Slovakia, and after meeting on the road and traveling together for a few years, they decided to settle down in Bratislava and share the food with the public that they made at home.

I enjoyed a raw vegetable salad and a spicy rice noodle dish with a few glasses of rosé‎ wine and chatted with the two owners. It’s a small place–only a few tables–so it’s ideal for lunchtime office workers to get take-out, or for solo or couple travelers to linger over a meal.

 

Dinner at Lucy's

Dinner at Lucy’s: raw green salad; spicy rice noodles with tofu, red pepper and topped with sesame seeds; glass of wine

 

Tim and Lucy seem to be very clear in their vision of what they want, and are confident in their business choices. Lucy’s Vegan Food is a sugar-free gluten-free vegan restaurant with a limited menu that prefers not to allow children, and they’re unapologetic about it, which I found admirable and endearing. Tim creates the savory menu, and Lucy bakes the desserts fresh every day. As I was leaving, she gave me a banana cocoa muffin, which I had for breakfast the following morning. It was perfect. Moist and not too sweet. A hard combination to come by for vegan baked goods on my travels. The muffin remains my favorite vegan dessert I’ve had in Eastern Europe.

 

Delightful gluten-free sugar-free vegan muffin from Lucy's

Delightful gluten-free sugar-free vegan muffin from Lucy’s

 

I stayed until close, getting tipsier from the wine and chatting their ear off. They’re lovely people, and it’s experiences like this that really make your travels–the night at the vegan restaurant, chatting with the owners and enjoying healthy vegan food in a small town in Slovakia, is really one to remember. One of a kind. For anyone who makes it to Bratislava, I encourage you to visit Lucy’s. The owners are welcoming and the food is a pleasant healthy and satisfying break from the heaviness of Eastern European food.

Bratislava is indeed a small town, and the people I met there are generous and kind. One night’s stay was perfect, though I imagine I could spend a lot more time there, exploring the surrounding hiking trails and frequently indulging in good vegan food.

 

Bratislava street musician playing The Beatles

Bratislava street musician playing The Beatles

 

Check Out: 

Veggie   
Obchodna 66 Bratislava, Slovakia
vegan wraps and soft drinks

Lucy’s Vegan Food
Malý trh 4121/2 811 08 Bratislava, Slovakia
vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free bistro

Note: There were several other vegan or vegan-friendly eateries in Bratislava that I didn’t visit, but Vegan in Brighton has a good recap from her visit a few years back.

 

Vegan in Vienna

In the land of schnitzel and sausage, finding vegan food is surprisingly easy and quite delicious: from big buttery olives stuffed with chili peppers to smooth and creamy vegan ice cream, Vienna, Austria harbors a huge number of vegan delights for the vegan traveler.

A sampling of the vegan food you'll find in Vienna

A sampling of the vegan food you’ll find in Vienna

 

   Whenever people ask me some variant of, “Isn’t it hard to travel as a vegan?” my answer is typically, “No. Not at all. Vegan food is just fruit and vegetables and plants and grains–those are everywhere. And getting away from processed vegan foods is both enjoyable and good for me, so I relish the opportunity of eating just fresh fruit for breakfast or rice and veggies for lunch.”

   That’s true, to some degree, but when I answer that, I forget that I like food. I really like food. I like eating it, and looking for it, and thinking about it, and talking about it, and writing about it and photographing it, and sharing those photographs with anyone who has two eyes and an Instagram account. And my natural predilection when I’m traveling is to seek out the local delicacies, done vegan-style. And sometimes, when I’m wandering around a city where I don’t speak the language, and can’t read the signs or menus, and my stomach starts growling, I really wish I could just dive into a cheap and easy cheese pizza or not walk past mile after mile of affordable local-flavor cafes. I dream of vegan options around the world being more ubiquitous.

I'm dreaming of vegan options all the way 'round the world.

I’m dreaming of vegan options all the way ’round the world.

   

   So to be in Vienna, the land of wienerschnitzel and sausage, and find a good dozen vegan-friendly places, well, there goes my backpacking budget. (To be fair, my backpacking budget goes at the window at fairly everything. A glass of wine? Don’t mind if I do! Another glass? Well, OK, ‘cause YOLO. Oooh, a vegan bag of candy? OK! I’m basically a terrible backpacker.)

   Turns out, Vienna (or Wien, as it’s called locally. Pronounced Veen. See, now you’re a linguist like me) happens to be a vegan haven for its health-conscious and animal-lovin’ citizens. The specialties seem to include fake meats (which I’ve had in abundance), Asian-style food with fake meat (which I’ve also had in abundance) and healthy micro raw food (which I’ve had zero). And ice cream. Not the watery ice-y sorbet we vegans get as a token at most places (though I appreciate the token, I do, token-givers!); real, honest-to-goodness, creamy, cold and sweet vegan ice cream.

   So where did I find myself and what did I squeeze into three days?

Rauch Juice Bar Neubaugasse 13, 1070

   A large fresh-pressed juice or blended smoothie is under 5 euro, so when you need a blast of fruit and veg to get you through the fried-food bonanza that is Vienna, this is the place to go. Favorite juice: the Chill Out (apple, celery and carrot).

Fresh Juice in Vienna

Fresh Juice in Vienna

 

Rupp’s Vegetarian Pub  Arbeitergasse 46, 1050

   Purveyors of vegan schnitzel. Traditionally, schnitzel is pounded pork or veal, breaded and deep-fried. I’m all about breaded and deep-fried, but make mine cruelty-free, please! Rupp’s is located centrally, an easy walk or hop on the Underground (public transportation in Vienna is a dream to navigate, by the way). From what I can tell, the vegan options are available for dinner only.

   This is a vegetarian pub with all the vegan items clearly labeled. Big portions will fill you up easily, but make sure to save room for dessert–they offer an apple strudel that’s out of this world.

Formosa GmbH Barnabitengasse 6, 1060

   This vegan food store is also a restaurant that serves Asian-style mock meats and vegan fast food. With offerings as diverse as chicken burgers (skip that one, the ‘burger’ is half the size of the tiny bun) and hot dogs to Japanese duck curry and vegan Cordon Bleu, all items are under 10 euros and there’s something for everyone (provided everyone likes fake meat). The fried chicken was enjoyable–definitely needed that lemon wedge–though I found the potato salad to be too sweet. I came here twice–it’s affordable, located next to the Naschmarkt, and one of the only vegan cafes open for dinner.

   Bonus: vegan gummy sharks and cola bottles for sale by the register.

Chicken Fried Steak at Formosa

Chicken Fried Steak at Formosa

 

Xu’s Cooking Kaiserstraße 45, 1070

   Come here for the lunch buffet. At under 8 euros, it’s all-you-can-eat and mostly vegan. Soups, salads, spring rolls, fried rice (with egg), curry and multitudes of fakes meats will fill you up. Make sure to get a piece of the seasonal watermelon with your dessert at the end of your meal. It gets busy during the lunch hour, but the staff makes sure to keep the buffet stocked and loaded. One of my favorite places to eat due to the variety.

Vegan lunch buffet at Xu's Cooking

Vegan lunch buffet at Xu’s Cooking. Yes, that was too much wasabi.

 

Eis Greissler Rotenturmstraße 14, 1010

   One of the most popular and more affordable ice cream shops in Vienna, there’s almost always a line snaking out the front door. It’s worth the wait. Just under half their options are vegan, and there’s really no reason not to get a double scoop. In a vegan waffle cone, naturally. I regret not getting the apricot flavor, but both the elderberry sorbet and the chocolate ice cream were worth it. I would have gone back the following day if not for…

 

Veganista Neustiftgasse 23, 1070

   A recently opened all-vegan ice cream parlour centrally located. The staff is friendly and happy to answer questions, and while the scoops here are slightly more expensive than Eis Greissler, the array of options makes up for it. If the basilikum (basil) and orange saffron olive oil flavors are available when you stop by, make sure you try both. There’s always tomorrow to sample the others. My tomorrow involved the white chocolate and the Oreo cookie; the white chocolate was a tiny bit underwhelming, but the Oreo was delightfully chock full of cookies.

The vegan ice cream selection at both places was overwhelming, in the best possibly way.

The vegan ice cream selection at both places was overwhelming, in the best possibly way.

   

   This is only a portion of the vegan restaurants in Vienna; as you can see, eating vegan in Vienna is enjoyable and very easy. And if your sense of direction is better than mine, you may not need to cross-reference your Google Maps to get around; turns out every restaurant and cafe I went to was within in a 20-minute walking radius, making your vegan adventure accessibly and enjoyable.

 

For more reviews and listings for vegan food in Vienna, visit Happy Cow

 

Out and About in December (OR: Things I Ate & Drank This Month)

 

Hey guys. Me again. Twice in one week? It’s like I’m a real live blogger or something. But with my family stuck in Southern Oregon* due to a huge blizzard, and time off work, I find myself with more free time than usual. So what are we waiting for? Let’s do this!

Some December eats and drinks:

P1100446

This is the ‘Merican Waffle from Portobello. I ate this. Well, half of this. I am going to show all 32 years of my life and proudly refrain from making any boob comments. But if you feel the need in the comments, by all means go ahead.

 

P1100448

This is a cider sampler from Bushwhackers, an all-cider all-the-time bar in Southeast Portland. Love the concept, but three of these ciders just tasted like homebrews to me. Which, come to think of it, maybe they were. The other two were pleasant—a little sweeter and more filtered. After spilling one of these little guys all over my lap (Just call me graceful), I tried a bottle from Corvallis that tasted like apple cider—there were notes of nutmeg and spice. Super yummy.

 

P1100451

One of my favorite things about pho is the big plate of fresh greens that comes out before the broth bowl. Jalapeños, cilantro and lime: these are a few of my favorite things. This was at Pho Dalat on 39th (I mean Caesar Chavez Blvd?) and Hawthorne.

 

P1100457

A new-ish Tiki bar in my neighborhood opened recently. This drink was full of crushed ice, booze and fruit juice. Hello, sailor. I don’t usually like ‘Tiki-style” drinks—dark rums and tropical  citrus juices– so most of the drink menu here doesn’t appeal to me, but there were a handful of cocktails with light rum and juices like passion fruit and mango.

 

P1100459P1100462

The requisite Veggie Grill meal. If it looks like I eat here all the time, it’s because I do. I’ve finally figured out how to order without spending one million dollars and feeling like I want to throw up from eating so much after each visit: Order a small salad (not on the menu, but they’ll do it) and share an entrée (I like to turn their Santa Fe Chicken sandwich into a wrap, because as you know, everything is better in a tortilla. Everything.). Upgrading your side to mac and cheese (with a side of chipotle ranch) isn’t required, but man oh man, it makes every meal even better.

 

P1100478   P1100482

P1100488

I found a new favorite restaurant!!! It’s called Shandong and it’s in the Hollywood District. They will happily veganize almost the whole menu for you (the appetizers are already pre-made little meat pockets like wontons and stuff and can’t be veganized) (yes, I just said meat pockets). There’s a complimentary pot of hot tea on the table, a remarkably well-cultivated wine and cocktail list, and…HOUSEMADE NOODLES. That your server BRINGS SCISSORS TO CUT THE NOODLES AT YOUR TABLE. And then LEAVES THE SCISSORS with you at your table. Most fun ever. I love interactive meals.

The dry-sautéed green beans were wicked good (there’s a lot, though. Two of us couldn’t finish them.) and my bowl—Judy’s Bowl—came with housemade noodles, spinach, fresh jalapeños, shitake mushrooms, garlic and white wine broth, and I added fried tofu to my bowl. It was huge and delicious, just the way I like my noodle bowls.

 

P1100470

I made shape cookies. I do this every year, but this time I used a new recipe. I didn’t like it as much as my original recipe (the cookies weren’t as soft) but they still turned out okay. I mean, when you put frosting on something, it makes even mediocre cookies taste great. I would eat frosting off the floor and then declare it the best floor I ever ate.

 

P1100477

Kale Salad. Because what’s better than kale salad? It’s a short list: popcorn, champagne and tacos. Top Four favorites, right there. This Kale Salad was at the Cheese Bar up on SE Belmont, and is naturally vegan: no modifications needed. It was real tasty.

 

And from my Instagram feed:

bubbles 

Champagne at home with the roomie during our gift exchange date

 

dontremember 

Vegan sausage and cheese filled mini croissants with potato and kale scramble, at home

 

kale salad

Kale Salad at work

 

ravioli

Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and sage sauce and toasted hazelnuts, at home

 

….And, I just heard from my mom; she and my little brother are on their way up! They made it through the snow and I will get to celebrate Christmas with my family after all. Yay! Watoosie! Happy Holidays!!

My Week In Review

 

Hello guys, welcome to the first (and most likely only—we discussed my attention span in my previous post) edition of My Week In Review.

This past week, I:

  • Ate these vegan nachos at Moonshine Tavern while discussing a new project with my friend Amado (hint: PODCAST).

P1100280

 

  • Decided that enough was enough and asked my friend Rob to take some professional shots of me. By professional, I mean not in a photobooth and not eating a spaghetti sandwich or a taco, which is my typical MO.

176175_10150152126935575_564900574_8849826_4132570_o

Exhibit A: this photo from 2011 was my profile picture for longer than I care to share. But come on, ya’ll. A spaghetti sandwich. Made with a grilled cheese. Side note: my hair was so short!

I don’t have any of the pictures yet (and lord knows YOU WILL ALL KNOW when I get them cuz they’ll be all over my Facebook and Yelp and Twitter and Blog and Pinterest and Instagram and whatever new social media comes out between now and then) but I do have photos of the photographer taking pictures of me, because I’m post-modern and stuff.

P1100289

 

  • Took a trip to Astoria (on the Oregon Coast, about a two hour drive from Portland) with my friend Zach. I was in desperate need of a getaway (bruised heart problems, yadda yadda), so this was PERFECT timing.

P1100335

P1100337

P1100368

 

We played Bingo at the best little dive bar in the world:

P1100313

P1100315

P1100329

I swear to god, the person taking the picture and the bartender TOLD US to get up on the bar for this picture. This was not my idea, though I gleefully complied.

…and we ordered a sampler of fancy (read: expensive) and delicious beers at Ft George Brewery…

P1100300P1100301

…and checked out the fogginess of the Oregon Coast from the vantage point of the Astoria Column.

P1100351

P1100352

P1100364

 

  • I attended a Sausage Party.

It’s not what you think.

Or is it?  It was just a vegan sausage potluck, guys. Gosh.

Fennel SausagesGluten Free Sausagesoupmushroomsbiscuitspizza

It was tons of fun and I ate the heck out of some vegan sausage. Some highlights included:

  • Apple, Brussels Sprouts and Soyrizo Soup
  • Homemade Pepperoni on English Muffin Pizzas
  • Fennel Sausage Links
  • Soyrizo-stuffed Mushrooms
  • Cheesy Apple Sage Sausage and Jalapeño Muffins

 

  • I ate at Veggie Grill’s Grand Opening of their 3rd Portland location in Hillsboro (their treat):

the spreadwingsRollersMac and CheeseB Wing SaladPudding

I could eat Veggie Grill every single day. Now, if only they’d put their vegan Caesar back on the menu…

I tackled a big bowl of pho after an extensive and always-hilariously fun grocery shopping trip with the roomie (love that gal so much):

Pho

 

Had a few Vida Vegan meetings:

One was at the Portland Art Museum, to go over a few minor setbacks we encountered (don’t worry, Vida Vegan Con goers, it’s going to work out even better for us in the long run!)

Art Museum Outside

 

And the other was at a potential Galarama + Silent Auction site:

Staver Locomotive

So pretty, right??

 

I’ve also been munching my way through the treats in this Healthy Surprise package that they sent me. This company specializes in sending vegan, gluten-free and soy-free snack to your door. Review coming soon.

healthy surprise

 

Just another week in my life. I do feel very fortunate that I’ve carved out a life that keeps me busy and happy and surrounded by fantastic friends and great food.

 

Note: This is in addition to my normal 40-45 hour work week at the restaurant. I don’t blog about that because, well, is that boring? I don’t know; it’s not to me. If anyone is interested in a ‘Day In The Life’ type post about what I do in a day as a restaurant manager, let me know and I will totally consider it.

 

…..And now I want a spaghetti sandwich. Great.