Vegan in Prague: Chutnej

Yet another newcomer on the Prague vegan scene, and this time it’s a takeaway!  I was expecting it to be a colourful, plastic kind of fast food joint, but far from it:  there were big windows, wooden tables, recycling bins.  It’s definitely a vegan place!

The food is fast and delicious, and available either to takeaway or eat in.  On our first visit we’d been planning on not sticking around, expecting it to be short on seating, but being so pleasantly surprised we grabbed a table and waited.  The menu consists of six kinds of burger, seven kinds of pizza (also available in calzone form, called kapsa), and a few side dishes (falafel, coleslaw, chips or onion rings).  Dr HH and I both ordered calzones, in tribute to Ben Wyatt, everyone’s favourite calzone enthusiast.

Dr HH got the Mexican calzone, and deemed it not spicy enough despite the presence of pickled chillies.  He liked the creaminess of the cheese, and found the pizza well-stuffed and tasty.

I got the artichoke one, as it’s my opinion that there is no fancier pizza topping (or filling, in this case) than the artichoke.  Of course, it was delicious!  I was also a big fan of the cheese.  I was not such a fan of the calzone being cut into three, as it made the middle piece extremely difficult to eat without the filling oozing out everywhere, but sometimes you just have to get a bit messy.

On our next visit, we transferred our attention to the burger menu.  Dr HH chose the beetroot burger, because he was hoping it might be robi (a mock meat made from beets that we’ve only encountered here in the Czech Republic).  It wasn’t robi:  the patty was made with beetroot, as you can probably deduce from the colour.  He enjoyed the integrity of the patty, and was especially pleased to find gherkins in there too.

I went for the falafel burger, which tasted beautiful but was a little dry, unfortunately.  I think that’s always the risk with a falafel patty.  But I was happy to see it was served with cheese, and the bread was really good too.  In the end we agreed that while the pizzas were excellent, the burgers were just fine, and we’ll order accordingly next time.

There are a few side dishes available:  falafel balls, vegetable fries and onion rings.  The onion rings were nice, but I was put off the fries when I took a big bite of what I’d guessed was parsnip and found that it was celeriac.  Noooooo!  I didn’t trust any of them after that.

There were also slices of raw cake available and they looked really good – unfortunately we just didn’t have room though (and had an uphill walk home to consider).  Maybe next time!

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Vegan in Prague: Mamacoffee

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Regular readers will know that Moment is my go-to place for  tea and cake, but even I like a change sometimes.  Enter Mamacoffee, a charming vegan-friendly chain of cafes across Prague.

Mama Coffee (1)

The Londynska branch is my favourite, though it is a seasonal destination for me: there are only a couple of indoor tables, so you need the right weather to enjoy the garden seating.  It’s a teeny tiny place, but they have good tea, coffee and hot chocolate (vegan if you ask for non-dairy milk) and always one vegan baked good on offer.  This chocolate bundt cake is usually in, and it’s very good.

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They also sometimes have this banana bread, with a delicious chocolate topping.  Both of these cakes are fairly light and make a very enjoyable elevenses, I have to say.

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The Vodickova branch, closer to the city centre, is more of a restaurant upstairs with a cafe downstairs, and it tends to be quite busy – the first two times we went we couldn’t get a table upstairs. We managed to find a seat in the cafe downstairs on one of those occasions, at least.  Dr HH and I both ordered the one savoury vegan option, a savoury turnover which was something between a pasty and a calzone, with a samosa filling.  It took about ten minutes for the staff to warm this up in the oven and bring it over, and the time:heat ratio left something to be desired.  It was tepid at best – we might as well have just had it immediately at room temperature.  At least it tasted good though!

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There were four vegan dessert choices:  the aforementioned chocolate bundt and banana bread, plus apple strudel and these pumpkin coconut cinnamon rolls.  We couldn’t detect any pumpkin, but the dessicated coconut rolled up inside was a great touch.  They were room temperature, and lacked the usual stickiness of a cinnamon roll, but again, they tasted fantastic and we really enjoyed them.

On our third attempt and with a reservation this time (phone reservations only, more’s the pity), we finally got into the upstairs section for a proper lunch in March.  The vegan and veganisable options are clearly marked on the menu, which is in both Czech and English.  There are a couple of vegan breakfast options, and most of the lunch options are vegan-friendly too.  Dr HH had the burger, which came with a little pot of coleslaw.  It had a vegetable patty with some mayo and a delicious bread bun.  It wasn’t the best burger he’s ever had, but he was pleased with the flavours and textures.

My brother was with us, and he had the mezze plate, which certainly looked good.  He raved about the pita pockets, and was also delighted with the hummus and rice salad.  Well done Mamacoffee for winning over a non-vegan!

And I got the veganised Ukranian dumplings with potato and mushrooms.  They were filled with mashed potato, and topped with sour cream and mushrooms, and they were delicious!  I’d highly recommend them.  It’s the kind of dish I haven’t really seen elsewhere in Prague.

We finished off with a couple of cakes:  the chocolate bundt again, and a lemon and chia seed one which was really zesty and light.  If there are no vegan cakes in the upstairs cabinet, definitely ask the staff and they can let you know what the options are downstairs.

The best thing about this particular branch of Mamacoffee is that it is directly opposite one of Prague’s Hooters restaurants.  Yes, that Hooters.  Not only do you get to have a tasty and civilised light lunch, you also have the entertainment of watching hungover, remorseful-looking stags hiding behind their sunglasses as they stumble in and out.  Classic Prague entertainment!

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MiniMoFo: Herbivore, Prague

June’s MiniMoFo theme is fruit, and fortunately I had just the place up my sleeve after recently visiting Herbivore for the first time.  This charming little cafe and shop is well-established, but I’d simply never gotten round to visiting yet.  It’s quite pricey, and seating is limited, so I’d always stayed away, but finally Dr HH and I decided to visit on a weekday morning when it wasn’t too busy.  And our breakfast was suitably fruity!

Dr HH tried this acai bowl which was beautifully refreshing on a toasty summer day in Prague.  It was banana based, and topped with chia, coconut, granola and mango.  He fell in love with acai bowls when we were in Valencia last summer, so it’s nice to know that there’s such a good option here in Prague.

I went for the BCB combo, which consisted of the biggest slab of banana bread imaginable, a dish of peanut butter and a hemp hot chocolate.  It was sensational!  The banana bread itself was so good, especially the chocolate chunks, and slathering it in peanut butter just made it even better.  I’ll probably get this again next time.

We ordered a couple of smoothies as well, just to get the full experience.  The one on the left was Dr HH’s 3N smoothie, which was flavoured with peanut butter and coconut.  On the right is my banana cream smoothie, which had a bit too much cinnamon, but was otherwise tasty.

We’re definitely planning on returning for more fruit-based breakfasts in the future, despite the prices (regular for the UK, but steep for Prague).  Service was good, and it was a nice bright place with a well-stocked shop.  There are a couple of seats outside as well, which would be lovely were it not for the fact that Herbivore sits on a busy, noisy road.  At least you can glimpse the river through the traffic though.

And moving away from the fruit theme briefly, we also made use of the pay-by-weight buffet to get a couple of things to take away for lunch.  The sandwich was on wonderfully fluffy bread and filled with roasted veg, hummus and greens.  The quiche was full of vegetables and was really well baked.  Both got the thumbs up from us!

Have you got a favourite place to grab a fruity breakfast?  Are you an acai bowl or banana bread kind of person?  Let me know!

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Cookbook of the Month: The Accidental Vegetarian

I loved this book and Simon Rimmer’s restaurant Greens so much when I was vegetarian.  When I became vegan, I fell out of love with the restaurant (not great for vegans, but I’ve heard it’s improved) and stopped using his vegetarian cookbooks.  While I was looking around for a new cookbook for May, I thought I’d dip back into this one that I used to use extensively and see how vegan-friendly it was.

One thing that’s important to note is that a lot of these recipes were actually served at the restaurant, meaning that they’re much more indulgent than our everyday recipes.  I remember always being aware that the recipes called for a lot of oil, butter and cream, but this time it really hit home just how indulgent they were.  In pretty much every recipe I reduced the recommended quantities of these three ingredients, and I found the food still very tasty and satisfying – so feel free to tone it down and enjoy these every day too.

The spicy red pepper hummus doesn’t look particularly attractive in the mixing bowl, but it was very tasty.  The recipe calls for the juice of three lemons, but I toned it down as that seemed quite excessive.  Simon pairs this recipe with some coriander flatbreads, which I have made before but couldn’t be bothered with this time – the weather has suddenly taken a very summery turn and kitchen time needs to be minimised!

The panzanella was fresh and flavoursome.  Truthfully, it’s a bit of a faff to make:  roasting and peeling the peppers, then attempting to peel the tomatoes (I gave up halfway through and it was fine).  I made this for packed lunches, so I kept the cubes of ciabatta separate until it was time of serve, so they didn’t go completely soggy beforehand.  It was a really lovely salad, probably worth faffing around at the prep stage.  I’ve only ever had homemade panzanella, and it’s my dream to actually have it served to me so I don’t need to worry about all the effort.

The spicy coconut and beetroot soup was the only soup recipe in the book, so I had to try it even though the combination is a little bold for me.  I was quite hesitant to actually take a spoonful, but it was delicious!  You know when something tastes quite weird, but you just can’t stop yourself from eating more?  It was just like that.  I usually tone down the spiciness in Simon Rimmer’s recipes, but this time it was necessary to keep it spicy to balance the sweetness.

I never even tried mushroom rarebit as a vegetarian, so I was a bit anxious about veganising the recipe.  The rarebit is a mixture of cheese, mustard and egg – I used a Veganz melty cheese and a flax egg, plus a little milk to bind everything together.  The cheese took a bit longer to melt than the recipe stated, as expected, but the result was spot on:  really creamy in texture, and savoury in taste.  We’ll definitely have this again!

Inspired by this roaring success, I went on to try the leek and potato rosti with rarebit.  I remember making this rosti before years ago, though I can’t remember what I served it with.  This time, alas, I overcooked the potatoes so they didn’t grate well, and the result was more potato cake than rosti. Still, they were delicious!  I veganised the rarebit just using milk this time, no flax egg: it still worked a treat.

From the Big Platefuls section, I tried a classic penne all’arabiata, which I don’t think I’d ever made before.  The flavours were simple and powerful, and it was a great fresh dish.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even ordered this before (it’s always the most boring dish on the menu, in my opinion), so it was actually a pleasant change for me and exceeded my expectations.

I didn’t have a chance to get stuck into making my own dough, so for the gnocchi with wild mushroom and rosemary ragu I used shop-bought gnocchi (DM stores in Prague sell a vegan version) and focused my energies on making that ragu. The recipe called for a lot of tomato puree, so I pulverised two cans of chopped tomatoes and just added a few spoons of puree to thicken it up.  I also couldn’t bring myself to put 850ml red wine in, so I scaled that down a bit too.  The sauce turned out thick and rich – it was really lovely!  The garlicky mushrooms on top were great too.  I’ll definitely come back to this one.

Like most people who were meat-free in the ’90s and ’00s, I’ve had my fill of risotto.  But the lemongrass risotto with lime leaf tapenade sounded like a sufficiently interesting twist, and I’m really glad I gave it a go – it was one of the most flavoursome dishes of the book!  The flavours were well-balanced, with a nice lemony hint to the rice and a big zesty kick from the lime.  As with all of the recipes though, it could have been healthier.  The tapenade called for 75ml of olive oil to serve four people.  I’m not particularly health conscious, and even I couldn’t commit to that.  It worked really well with just half the amount of oil, I found.

I’d made the oriental pie a few times back in the day – it’s a shepherd’s pie with lots of mushrooms and soy sauce.  The recipe is easily veganised:  just use vegan spread and cream instead of dairy ones.  Actually, I completely omitted the cream from the mash, because I wasn’t sure it was necessary for a weeknight meal – not quite so much indulgence, please!  I also used only sweet potatoes for the mash, rather than some regular potatoes too.  I was worried the pie would be a bit light, but it did fill us up (though we only got 4 portions out of it rather than 6) and the flavours were excellent.

Moroccan spaghetti was the first dish Dr HH ever cooked for me, so it has a special place in my heart.  He paired it with the sweet potato salad from this book, but I was too lazy to follow his lead.  I used a tin of chopped tomatoes rather than fresh ones, and I like the extra sauciness.  The sauce is simple but full of flavour, and I love all the chickpeas and flaked almonds.  A definite winner.

The black bean and aubergine chilli is another Dr HH staple (his old flatmate had this book, hence he knows some of the recipes too), so I was a little annoyed to have to make it for myself this time.  Tinned black beans don’t seem to exist here, and I’m far too lazy for overnight soaking, so I just used kidney beans instead.  It was predictably delicious, although I have to say it tastes better when Dr HH is at the helm.

I decided to try the Rendang shallot and asparagus curry, mostly because my rubbish supermarket happened to have both asparagus and shallots in, and nothing that was actually on my shopping list. The sauce was incredibly flavoursome, and the caramelised shallots were delicious, but this did not make very much – we only got three servings out of it.

The aubergine tikka masala was a mixed success.  The marinated aubergine is meant to be skewered and grilled, but we don’t have a grill so I just bunged it in the oven for an hour – the pieces weren’t as tender as I would have liked though.  The tomatoey sauce is meant to be poured over the skewers, but I decided to mix everything together – the result was tasty, but not particularly saucy, as a tikka masala usually is.  It was nice, but not really what I was expecting.

I’ve made the red Thai bean curry several times before, and it’s always better with more exciting veg – green beans and broad beans aren’t exactly spectacular, and the nearest bean I could find was cannelini anyway.  It needed something a bit meatier, I think.  That said, the curry paste is absolutely faultless.

I wish the recipe for strawberry and black pepper lollies had been more specific on the amount of pepper.  For it to be a title ingredient, you’d expect a reasonable amount, no?  I added the recommended “twist” of black pepper, and was afraid of being too heavy-handed, so left it at that.  It just tasted of strawberries. I couldn’t find plain yoghurt, so I used strawberry yoghurt and omitted the sugar from the recipe.  It was nice, but I’ll have to be bolder with the pepper next time.

Pretty much all of the dessert recipes call for about six eggs, making them not the easiest to veganise. I decided to have a go at the chocolate brownies (with marshmallow sauce), as there were only four eggs to contend with – the marshmallow sauce was a non-starter as I don’t know of any vegan brands here in Prague.  I used two big bananas instead of the eggs, and they seemed to do a decent job.  The recipe also called for one cup each of sugar and butter, plus 225g chocolate – and this is meant to be dessert for four people!  I halved the sugar and butter, but stuck with most of the chocolate.  Unsurprisingly, it was still extremely rich and decadent.  (Excuse the flatness – I only have one ovenproof dish here and it’s gigantic so all my traybakes are pancake-flat.)  They were really good brownies.  For a special occasion I’d definitely come back to this recipe and indulge myself.

I was a little daunted by the prospect of trying the hot choccy with churros, and they did turn out to be a little tricky.  I halved the recipe and converted it from grams to cups, so it’s possible that the correct balance of ingredients got a little lost in translation, as Simon kept referring to the batter, when I produced more of a dough.  The batter was meant to be piped into the oil for deep-frying, but it was so thick and heavy I actually just rolled it out and placed the dough rolls into the oil.  In the end they were lovely and crispy outside, but not quite right inside – this recipe definitely needs more tinkering.

The hot chocolate was also not perfect – I added half as much milk as I needed, and it was already much thinner than I’d hoped for, so I left it at that.  Due to the condensed milk, you definitely couldn’t drink this hot chocolate!  I’m glad I gave this recipe a whirl, and I’m going to look at alternative churros recipes to see if I can get it right next time.  The churros recipe was already vegan, and for the hot chocolate I just used non-dairy milk and this vegan condensed milk.

After a month of cooking from this book I’m inspired to dig up some of my old veggie cookbooks again and see what use I can get from them.  I really enjoyed these dishes, and will definitely be dipping into it a little more.  A more experienced vegan baker than me could probably do some good work veganising the other eggy desserts too.  While buying it may not be great value for money for vegans, if this is in your library, you should definitely check it out!

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Vegan in Prague: AMA Tibetan

Unlike in the UK, there aren’t many meaty restaurants here in the Czech Republic that also have vegan options on the menu.  I think part of the reason is that there aren’t so many chain restaurants here, so there just isn’t the same consumer pressure for vegan options.  Whatever the reason, it’s always very exciting when a place pops up with solid vegan options.  (Don’t get me wrong, I like giving my money to 100% vegan businesses, but it’s also nice to have more options, see vegan going more mainstream, and have somewhere to go with friends who want a meat fix.)

AMA Tibetan is not far from JzP station, pretty close to the centre for tourists as well as locals.  You’ll see the colourful bunting as you approach on the street, and the restaurant itself is in the basement.  It’s nice and bright, thanks to lots of white paint and light wood, and really simple and elegant.  The menu has one vegan starter, one vegan variety of momos, and two mains (one stirfry, one noodle soup).  The vegan options are clearly labelled, so you can’t go wrong.

Dr HH ordered the stirfry.  As you can see, it was full of delicious charred broccoli and juicy mushrooms:  he loved it!  The waiter recommended getting rice with it, but we’re not sure this is necessary, as it was already a pretty hearty serving (plus we had a side as well).

I went for the soup, and did not get a good photograph of it.  It was a huge portion – I didn’t even come close to finishing it.  It was advertised as a noodle soup, and, not knowing anything about Tibetan noodles, I was quite surprised when it was full of what seemed more like ripped up lasagna noodles.  They were huge and delicious!  I also got mushrooms and broccoli, along with pak choi and other green veg.  The soup had a nice kick to it, though I think the stirfry was actually tastier.

Perhaps the reason I struggled with my soup and Dr HH didn’t need the rice was because we also ordered the vegan momos to share.  How could we not?!  We got ten little dumplings, which were perfectly formed, but unfortunately we found the veg filling a touch bland.  Fortunately the dipping sauce (tomato and chilli, I’d guess) packed more of a punch and really elevated them – and was once again generously served.

What a great place!  Huge portions, generally strong flavours, lots of fresh veg, and guaranteed to please a crowd of veggies/omnis.  Hurrah!

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MiniMoFo: Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen, Manchester (Take Two)

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May’s MiniMoFo is all about favourites, and this place is definitely a favourite of mine!  When I lived in Manchester it was one of my regular haunts, and now Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen is the only place that I always go back to without fail when I’m home for the holidays.  And considering that it’s not well-served by public transport from my Manchester base, that’s really saying something.  (It’s very easy to reach from the city centre, though.)

Lotus is mostly vegan, but still has a few vegetarian options on the menu – everything’s labelled really clearly.  It’s a good place to grab takeaway, but eating in is always a real treat.  Everyone who works there is so friendly, and it’s just a lovely place.  If only they did takeaway too!  Last time I posted about it, I mentioned some of our favourites, but we have finally started branching out a teeny bit now.  Here’s a look at what we ordered when we were there last Christmas.

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We always share starters, because they are so good that you really want to try everything.  One day, Dr HH and I are just going to go and order all the starters: this is probably our greatest goal in life.  These dumplings are a staple for us.  They’re perfectly cooked with a healthy amount of filling.

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We always get the Vietnamese spring rolls too – there are three per serving, though my brother snaffled one before I could take a photo (he doesn’t really understand how the food blogging game works, unlike Dr HH who now faithfully waits five minutes while I take pictures of everything).  As you can probably imagine by looking at them, these rolls are beautifully crispy.

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The water chestnut rolls are as exciting as they sound, and also crispy.  We don’t go to the Chinese for our health!

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The prawn toast was a new dish for us, at my mum’s suggestion.  I scoffed at the idea, though to be fair, she described it as “prawns on toast with sesame seeds”, so I was picturing a kind of bruschetta.  If she’d told me it was a deep-fried toastie, I’d have been all over it.  If you like deep-fried food, you’ll love it.  I’m going to order it every time I go in the future.  Thank you to Mama HH!

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When it comes to mains, there’s no sharing.  Although I usually stick to the sizzling black pepper chicken, last time I decided to mix it up.  I got the duck with crispy noodles – it’d been years since I’d had crispy noodles, and I had really missed them.  I was hoping for a different style of duck, as it was a bit slimier than I’d hoped.  It was delicious though, and you can’t argue with a crispy noodle.

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My mum is perhaps even less adventurous than I am when it comes to ordering:  she loves Singapore noodles so much that she can’t order anything else!  She is very pleased with this dish, even though she usually isn’t keen on mock meats.

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My brother shares her opinion on that, so he went for a tofu and broccoli dish instead.  Much to my relief, he loved it so much that he cleaned his plate.  Hurrah!  Even avowed meat eaters love Lotus!

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Dr HH has no such fears, of course:  this is the very exciting looking Assam fish. When I asked him for his review, he raved, “It was so flaky, like fish!  I loved the crispy skin, like real fish!  Look at the presentation, all wavy!  The sauce was so spicy!”  I can’t really build on that enthusiastic review (all exclamation marks his own).

With under two months till we’re popping home for a summer holiday, I’m already starting to plan what to order on our visit!  Will we finally realise our all-starters dream?

What’s your all-time favourite restaurant?  Do you get to it more than twice a year?  Tell me everything!

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Vegan in Munich: Part Two

The first few days in Munich involved croissants, hearty portions of mac’n’cheese and incredible desserts.  Let’s see how it continued!

I am constantly on the lookout for vegan kebabs wherever I go, so I was excited to see that Erbils was an all-vegan establishment specialising in falafel, pida and good old kebabs.  Dr HH and I both chose the seitan durum, and it was tasty…but lacking a little of the flavour and bite that I’ve found in some others (such as Vegab in Krakow, or Voner in Berlin).  And the roll was not very tight, which meant it was quite a messy endeavour.  It was fine, but not a spectacular meal by any means.  The Happy Cow reviews suggest that service is not so friendly, but on our visit there were two very friendly servers and we had no complaints (they didn’t speak English, but even without any knowledge of German I think you’d scrape by).

A more exciting spot for dinner was Zodiac Pizza, which we staggered to the next evening after a full day on the go to visit Neuschwanstein Castle.  It’s a little vegetarian pizzeria, with the option of swapping the dairy cheese for this orangey cheese sauce, or paying extra for some vegan mozzarella.  I loved the cheese sauce, it was pleasantly creamy with a very good savoury taste. Also, look at all the topping!  This place is generous.  They have twelve set pizzas (one for each sign of the zodiac), and an option of building your own.  Oh, and a few salads, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I got the widder, which I believe is Aries: seitan, mushroom and leek.  It was excellent.  Besides the generous toppings, I was also impressed with the extremely thin and crispy base – no sloppiness here.

There were no desserts on the menu, but the staff told us there were two options, both vegan:  chocolate mousse or panna cotta.  Of course, we got one of each.  They were lovely elegant desserts, as you can see, served with chocolate shards.  The panna cotta was creamy and good, with a very tart fruity topping.  The mousse was the real highlight though:  so airy, light and flavoursome.  Zodiac was a last minute addition to our holiday itinerary, and I’m really glad we swung by.

We had one more excellent breakfast in the works, courtesy of Rebella Bex Cafe, a cafe connected to a yoga studio.  It has a lot of large tables for sharing, which always make me anxious as a typically anti-social Brit, but happily there weren’t too many other people there.  It looked like a great spot for lunch too (the burritos looked sensational, the cakes gigantic), but we were focused on breakfast.  We got a couple of hot chocolates, which were wonderfully rich.  The server recommended coconut-rice milk, which added a lovely taste.

And of course, we got the pancakes for breakfast. For €5.90, they were much bigger than we were expecting (in general it was a cruel blow going back to western European prices after spending so long in the dirt-cheap Czech Republic).  And they were delicious to boot!  The pancakes were fluffy and pillowy, and were served with artfully arranged fresh fruit, apple sauce and maple syrup.  I’d devour this plate again right now if I could!

We paid a similar price for our lunch, too.  After a morning pottering around the Neue Pinakothek art gallery, we made the short walk over to Ümis Cafe, a Turkish vegetarian and vegan spot.  The menu had a whole page of vegan dishes, but they cost around €16, so we opted for the €7 buffet instead – the server helpfully explained which dish wasn’t vegan.  It was quite a varied plate of food, and there were some good flavours, but it was unspectacular.

The dessert counter was a different story though!  We shared this nougat tart, and it was unbelievable. The pastry was really rich and crumbly, and the filling was chocolatey and sweet.  I definitely couldn’t have managed this by myself, but it was a great decadent treat to share.  Vegan options aren’t marked, but the staff can fill you in – there seemed to be lots we could try.

We also grabbed a couple of doughnuts for the bus ride home the following day.  When planning a holiday, the first two things I google are “vegan donuts [city]” and “vegan croissants [city]”, so these had definitely been on my radar.  They were better than I’d expected, largely thanks to something I hadn’t been expecting…

…the chocolate filling!  I’ve never seen filled ring donuts before, but I hope this catches on quickly.  I probably wouldn’t return to Ümis for the savouries, but I’d be all over that dessert counter again.

And our final meal in Munich was at Gratitude.  This was another late addition to the itinerary, mostly because the word gratitude, along with ‘authentic’, has been devalued by its overuse by inspirational Instagrammers.  But this place was good.  We arrived a couple of minutes after the 6pm opening and it was already filling up, so online booking would be a good idea.  It’s quite bright and airy at the front, darker and atmospheric further back.  The menu is only in German, but the staff spoke perfect English.  For starters there is a selection of tapas, then four main dishes and a cheesecake of the day.  We skipped the starters, and both ordered the grilled avocado dish.

There was a lot going on, and it all worked together to create a perfectly balanced dish.  You can probably see the bright green avocado there, grilled around the top.  It’s sitting on a little lake of hummus and topped with some tasty salad including cherry tomatoes and corn on the cob.  There’s also a poddadum there, which was nice but perhaps unnecessary, and two triangles of panko-coated fried tempeh:  they were incredible!  The orange sauce of ginger and sun dried tomatoes was just divine.  All in all it was one of those dishes you just don’t want to end.

But end it did.  And we decided to see if dessert was just as good.  It certainly didn’t disappoint!  It was a chocolate cashew cheesecake, which was creamy and rich.  It was served with a zingy lemon sorbet, some tahini sauce and a little heap of chocolate, nuts and seeds.  Again, it sounds a little busy, but it was perfect.  Overall, this was probably the best meal of the holiday (though Bodhi gives it a good run for its money).

As for what to do in Munich – the main reason we visited was to take a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle.  It’s a two hour train ride, followed by 10 minutes on the bus, and about thirty minutes walking uphill, but it’s definitely worth it.  Even if you don’t pay to go in, you’ll still marvel at the outside, and the surrounding scenery.

In the city itself we spent a lot of time wandering around the English Gardens, took in a show at the theatre (you can get €7 standing tickets pretty easily – you get what you pay for, but it’s a nice experience), enjoyed the town hall with its dancing clock, and went to a gallery.

There are quite a few art galleries in the city, but we chose the Neue Pinakothek because that’s where they keep the Impressionists.  We got to see sunflowers, waterlilies, and much more.

Munich exceeded my expectations as a vegan destination:  there were lots of options, though perhaps more vegetarian than exclusively vegan, unlike Berlin.  The breakfast and dessert scenes were excellent, which is always important to me in a holiday destination (or place to live, of course).  As wonderful as Munich was, I have to say, Berlin still has my heart!

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