Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Zürich, November 2009

I spent a weekend in Zürich in November, 2009. I was particularly thrilled about the opportunity to visit Caberet Voltaire, the birthplace of the Dada art movement. Dadaism began there when in 1914 Hugo Ball deserted the German army and cofounded the movement to protest the war.

It should be noted that Switzerland is very expensive. Unlike the Euro at 1.5 times the dollar, the Swiss Franc closely follows the US dollar. However, things seem to cost 1.75 to 2 times as much. Some of the fridge magnets I brought back were $10.

Oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe
Opening its doors in 1898, Hiltl is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe. It began life as an Indian restaurant that did not serve alcohol. Now, thankfully, it does serve alcohol, and it has expanded its menu.

The place was packed when I went there on Saturday, so I returned on Sunday when most everyone was in church ;-) It was still rather packed on Sunday, even as I heard the church bells ringing around town.
I was bummed to discover that their vegetarian stroganoff was not vegan, so I hit their steam table and salad bar.
As the place was so busy, I didn't bother bugging someone to tell me what was vegan. I just picked things that seemed safe. The food was pretty good, but I felt like their vegan items were limited. Though it was annoying, I was happy that the place seemed to be so busy, and with quite a diverse crowd.

In the north eastern corner of the Old City is SamSes, an all vegetarian restaurant. The place has a salad bar and steam table available all the time and wait service for menu items beginning at...I can't recall. Maybe 6:00PM. I was impressed that most of there are vegan and many are also gluten free. It should be noted that you won't find much in the way of local dishes as they try to give locals a variety of international cuisine (from their perspective).
I opted for the vegan schnitzel with frites. I pondered how amazing it was that a breaded dish was both vegan and gluten free as I quaffed my gluten-laden beer.

Then I went for the vegan tiramisu, which was amazing.

SamSes was a great experience because it's a bit away from the touristy section of the Old City, just north of the train station. The staff was quite friendly, which certainly adds to the experience, especially when you're a bit of a nervous traveler like me.

Stuttgart, Germany, November 2009

Stuttgart Schlossplatz

Having become vegan since my last business trip to Germany, I wasn't quite sure what I'd be in for. Thanks to the magic of HappyCow, I found some places in downtown Stuttgart that were able to hook me up. I also dared to venture outside of the happy HappyCow world with some good and some disastrous results.
I also spent a weekend in Zurich, Switzerland, and had loads of good luck finding vegan vittles there. More on that another day.

The first place of note I visited in Stuttgart was the HappyCow user recommended Vegi Voodoo King a tiny, mostly vegan falafel place.
It was quite inexpensive and, thanfully like most businesses in Germany, served beer. I got the Vegi Voodoo Platter which came with falafel nuggets, salad, and 6 sauces. I ate most of it with a spoon.

I found it funny that their menu had something on it called the "Falafel Obama" - a falafel sandwich that included ketchup and onions.

The Obama Falafel

Outside of Stuttgart by about 22 miles was Sehnsuchtskueche, an odd mix of a riding stable and part-time vegan restaurant. The place has weird hours, which doesn't make it all that convenient. The restaurant is definitely a side-business. Thankfully a former coworker, who's partner is vegetarian, offered to drive me out there. I could have gotten there via public transportation, but it would have been very expensive, would have taken forever, and would have included a not-so-fun walk up a dark driveway in the middle of seemingly nowhere.
You can just see the top of Doug's head
We opted to share 2-person combo platter that included soup (can't recall what sort), Swabian style lentils on eggless spaetzle noodles, breaded/fried celeriac slices and pumpkin, and Cordon Bleu. All very good, but I would have enjoyed it more if I weren't so bloody hung over from the previous evening. Plus, I'm not so much into the fried stuff, and was a bit disappointed that the veggies were battered/fried.

Definitely worth checking out if you can, if for no other reason to support such an anomaly in Germany. As we were eating, we got to overlook the courtyard where a horse was getting some exercise. Is it me, or is that just not the ideal vegan setting?

I was staying in a suburb of Stuttgart called Vaihingen. I went to a little place called "Ratstuebe", the oldest building in the city. It's located on a pedestrian walkway at Rathausplatz across from the Vaihinger Markt. It's been many things over the last 500 years but I believe it's always kept the same name. It is currently a Turkish gyro (what they call over there a döner kebab) and pizza place. I got the vegetarian version and was able to communicate with the chef that I also did not want the yogurt or some creamy looking red pepper thing. It ended up being stuffed with pickles, sprouts, lettuce, corn, beet slices, and tomatoes. It was quite tasty.
My veganized döner and another reason to go vegan in the background

Despite the fact that there are few restaurants in Stuttgart with vegan options, there are some great health food stores. One is called Bio-B, a chain with a store near the train station. They had a whole rack of vegan bratwursts, and I filled my suitcase up with them.

I did have two bad experiences in Stuttgart:

I traveled all the way downtown to get a plate of penne arrabiata. I made sure it had no cheese in it, asking the waitress several times to confirm. "Cheese is extra, so you're okay" she said. It had ham in it. Didn't discover 'til half way through. I should have known - seems Germans look for any opportunity to add some pork to a dish.

The other bad experience wasn't quite as bad: asked for a salad with nothing but olive oil and vinegar. I got oil and vinegar on the side of my salad covered in some creamy dressing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Egg(less) Raw Vegan Nog

'Tis the season for some fun tasty beverages. This recipe came from the Autonomie Project's blog. There are a couple listed, but this one is the raw version. Among other things, it calls for 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of dates, and a cup of raw cashews. We were pleasantly surprised how frothy and noggy it was. Of course, we also added rum.