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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

My Top 5 destinations for vegans & vegetarians



Yup, I don’t eat meat.
While I could go entirely vegan, I’d rather stick to my ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet, because 1) I am a candy girl and some sweets without eggs are like Gozo without its Azure Window & 2) I am very much in love with cheese and I simply enjoy sampling the various textures and tastes.
How is travelling to meat-loving destinations when you’re mostly about the vegetables? Not always easy, but I managed and apparently… survived! There are, however, certain places on the Globe that made their mark and simply make thinking back or going back a very complex and joyful experience, because… in the end, there are certain dishes, let’s face it, that make us smile.

Note: Italian food is my favourite; it would have been easier to list ‘Italy on a whole’, but I believe in the regional differences in the world and support them.
Of course, there are countries or areas that would have rightfully been found below, like Argentina, Armenia, Cyprus, or Turkey… the sweets in Albania, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Hungary, Kosovo, and Portugal… with the freshest of vegetables and of sour cream and milk rightfully encountered in my home country of Romania, so I promise that a follow-up to this article will be written!

  1. Sicily
Last night, I saw one of Paul Hollywood’s food shows. Centre-stage: Palermo, not only one of the cities I find most fascinating in the whole world, but also the capital of the island that sums up all my cravings and fetishes as far as food is concerned. 
Cannoli in Palermo
Only thinking of Sicily brings back happy times, incommensurable joy, and… is an event on its own. My favourite sweets: cannoli. My favourite gelato: in a brioche. My favourite pasta: had in Cefalù, aubergine-based – alla norma. Unforgettable caponata. Not to mention the special cassatina siciliana, the various tiramisus and pizzas, the artisan Aztec-inspired chocolate of Modica and the almond milk. A granita and a brioche may well be the perfect breakfast. And arancine – the perfect snack. Even train station bistros serve incredible food! I must say that Sicilians are blessed with the best of the best: pistachio of Bronte, cherry tomatoes of Pachino, almonds of Noto. Where would you have marzipan, pesto, orange juice of the ultimate quality and taste, if not here?
Brioche & granita alle mandorle for breakfast in Pozzallo

  1. Sardinia
What do I love about Sardinia, apart from its people, who are truly special? The fact that homemade food is so treasured on the island! 
Tiramisu in Fertilia
I tried home-baked mind-blowing pizza, huge bruschetta, history-influenced crema catalana and tiramisu to die for, gelato artigianale, the traditional pastries pardulas di ricotta and tilicas, and the honey-soaked seada, got addicted to the native fregola and artichoke. Yes, flavours from many parts, adapted to the personality of the Sards.
Aubergine pizza in Santa Teresa di Gallura
     
  1. Greece
Whenever I know that I am travelling to Greece, I think not of the beaches or of the culture, or of the friendly people… I think of food. Of eating incredibly fresh and healthy food. My palate immediately starts rejoicing. 
Food Heaven: Greek salad, fries, and beer in Orestiada
I could manage for a year with only Greek salad, feta, cheese salad, Greek yoghurt, spanakopita, galatopita, tzatziki, Kalamata olives, and aubergines in all styles – grilled, baked, fried; I don’t fuss too much about it.
Baked aubergines in Kalambaka

  1. Brazil
During almost one month in Brazil, I didn’t eat bread. At all. Consequently, I lost some weight, felt carefree and full of energy to simply travel, swim, and paddle. 
Pasta + arroz e feijão in Mariana
There are many things that I miss. Off the top of my head? Hmmm… pão de queijo, the pasta combined with all sorts of weird-looking but quite tasty vegetables, the vegetarian version of acarajé, the arroz e feijão, the tapioca pudding, the açaí bowls that I grew to love, the fruit in all those decadent cakes… rare but dazzling. Talking of fruit, I rediscovered my passion for them here. I didn’t like mango or melon before heading to Brazil. I got crazy over papaya. What about fruit juices? The best I’ve ever head: from guava to passion fruit, I could still have them all day every day.
Buying jaca in Salvador | © Vitor Maciel

  1. Israel
The food in Israel was… wow, in a truly unexpected way. There are not enough people raving about it; I see it as a big great secret. You understand when you get there: the mix of fresh Mediterranean cuisine and the earthy flavours of the Middle East is spectacular. Everything combines so well, it mesmerises you.
More-than-delicious breakfast in Vered Hagalil
Plus, the portions are gigantesque, to say the least. From the first shakshuka to the humus and the falafel /that was allegedly born here and it never tasted better anywhere else, for me, at least/, from the delicious pastries – so good that they all seem homemade – to perfectly balanced salads, fluffy breads, flavourful dried fruit, and hearty full-vegan breakfasts, it all felt like a very adventurous and pleasant journey, with surprises lurking around every corner.  
Falafel after Shabbat in Eilat