Costa Cálida beaches

Calblanque
Not far from Cartagena nor La Manga in Murcia you will find the Parque Regional de Calblanque. There are a couple of beaches in this area but we took the path to the left which led us to a sandy calm beach that would be great for kids but also nice for bathing. There are short hikes you can do around the rocky parts but avoid the dunes as they are protected. The water was fairly warm, tranquil and beautiful aquamarine in some areas.  Whichever path you take you probably won’t be disappointed.
bolnuevo bolnuevo fish and chipsBolnuevo
Once you arrive in this former fishing village, now British invasion of fish and chip shops and dime stores that carry shortbread bikkies, canned herring, Vienna sausages, and marmite, (not complaining) go past the main beach and continue up the hill. To your left you will see a drop to a nice somewhat secluded cove; the lack of parking makes this spot all the more enjoyable. Walk down the super steep hill toward the ocean. You will find yourself in paradise; this cove is calm, warm and wonderful with few people mostly whom arrived by boat. After a good swim we headed back into town for some damn good fish and chips (for the parents) and a good vegetarian pasta for ourselves at a wonderful restaurant called Elenas. If I am in the area again I will definitely stop in for the good food and great service.

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Vegan Fast-Food

universo veganoI never thought I’d be in Rome and stumble across a Vegan fast-food joint, but I did. If you are vegan/vegetarian or need a break from a meat centric diet then check out Universo Vegano @ Via Verdi, 4 – 21013.
The burgers are gigantic and should definitely be shared. Universo veganoThe fajita-like wraps look awesome, I really wanted to try the Veghani Lupino but it was sold out. They offer more like soup, vegan hotdogs, a bunch of sandwiches and potato and soy croquetas. If I was them I’d offer fries instead of their croquetas, they are just too heavy and more than enough bread after eating a burger or sandwich. If you eat here you will be fine ordering less than more because the portions are bigger than you’d expect.

Madrid Pizza

En Guay Si NYC Pizza: this is not NYC pizza but it is tolerable ninja turtle style pizza with a sub par sauce.  We ate it once but I could have done it again (Tom wouldn’t).  And It just wasn’t worth the commute.  However, they got some good reviews and the guys were nice.  They seemed to have a following.

vesuvioPizzería Vesuvio: One of our favorites.  This place can be hit or miss depending on the man making the pizza.  Madrileños seem to love lots of cheese and toppings overflowing their pizza (as I’ve found some west coasterners like too).  But we are all about the plain old well done margarita pie.  Vesuvio has learned to do this well but when it gets busy it can get too cheesy.  Either way this place, the vibe and the people are great.  I love supporting this place.  And to top it off you can order to go from the street and they have awesome mini pie boxes and a margarita pie runs a little over 5 euros.  You can’t beat that really.

Fratelli d’ Italia: the fairly new up and coming pizza joint in the hood of lavapies.  Good Italian pizza made by Italians, can’t really go wrong.  We like to get the margarita to go because we can always pop it in the oven if it is undercooked and it is cheaper than the other pies.  But they have other types of pies and slices, even secilian slices sometimes.  And it is hard to turn down their cannoli and tiramisu.  Fratelli isn’t your regular pizza quickie joint, they also offer Italian meals but I have yet to try one.

I’m a big fan of Fratelli’s and Tom’s a big fan of Vesuvio; either way you can’t really go wrong with these joints when you’re searching desperately for decent pizza in a mal-pizza educated country.

I could name all of the sub-par places we tried, and maybe I will eventually but all you need to know is that these 3 places will get you by if you have the craving.

Cosmen & Keiless

There are great little hidden bakeries and holes in the wall that have incredible breads or treats but I stumbled upon one the other day and it had a lot more to offer.  It is a tad on the pricy side and it may even be a chain but the vegetarian quiche I had was amazing (no tuna!) and everything I bought was a large proportion for a decent price (and was delicious!) It was a hit at our girl’s tea time get together.  The store front that I stopped in was at Calle León, 10. 28014 Madrid -#913-690-587 but they also have other locations. Check them out; you won’t be disappointed.

Ecocentro

ecocentroWhen I first arrived in Madrid I was faced with jamón, jamón, jamón.  Even vegetarian dishes would arrive with jamón splayed all over or bacon sprinkled on top, or tuna hidden in the dish.  It was impossible to eat out as a vegetarian without knowing the ropes.  Then I stumbled across Ecocentro and was pleasantly surprised to find super fresh greens, salads, veggies, everything you could ask for.  The catch was that you pay per pound so it can add up if you aren’t careful.  All in all the food is good, the service is buffet style so quick, and if you haven’t found a local affordable health food store near you yet then you can find some hard to find items in their market around the corner (but also super pricey).eco

The best place I have found so far, pricewise etc. is Planeta Vegano in Lavapies. What are some of your good health food/vegetarian finds in Madrid?

Tapapiés

Living in Lavapiés, taking part in the 2 week long Tapapiés was unavoidable.  This was the second year that many of the local bars showcased their best tappas for  €1  or a caña (small draft beer) and tappas for €2.

As vegetarians, going out for tappas brings little excitement as most are served with ham or some type of meat inside.  However, Tapapiés was just what we needed to size up our options.  You get a map of all the participating bars and what tappas they are offering.  You can pick up these maps at any of the participating bars or follow online.  There were more participants this year than last so we lucked out with about 7 options out of 47 (more if you eat fish).  It was great because each bar had a different vibe to it.

The first bar was blasting Britney Spears American Pop songs which didn’t seem to match the ambiance nor clientele at all but their hummus tappa was ok even though it wasn’t listed on the map.

The wine bar Alma Café was more relaxed with a mid 30s + crowd.  Their Canasta Griega tappa was real good but the best part was the lil old grandma cooking them in the back.

We tried a few more but the one I loved was the Cono Alabanda from the bar Alabanda.  It was a delicious pastery puff cone with vegetables, goat cheese, white truffle oil and a little side of mashed potato and pumpkin.

And since we couldn’t sample all the bars we didn’t spend too much money.  Although 2 euros for a sample and a tiny beer can really add up when you’re bar hopping.  If you are in Madrid near the end of October this is a must.  And if you are new to the neighborhood it is a great excuse to scope out the bar scenes in your area all in one night.

MV Food Log

I am going to try to make this food post short and sweet

(probably not gonna happen).

-Best pizza on the island and maybe all MA = Giordano’s. Go get a slice, the slices are bigger and better than the pies to go. Really amazing. End of the season people line up to the gills until the last pie is sold out.  Wish I could get a slice now.

-I don’t want to blow up the food cart market on MV but there is now one cart (genius idea) on the V called ArtCliff Diner.  Late night diner food.  Vegetarian options and all.  I can vouch for the falafel and fries.  A filling late night dinner but tons of garlic (on the fries), which i love. at a fairly normal/ to low MV price range for a generous portion.  Long lines and limited parking but perfect for those late night bike rides home or you can probably catch them open at an earlier hour with less of a crowd.  Wish I had land here because this womans diner fail/success is every beach lovers dream.  Check them out when you visit.

-Seafood. well, I can’t really say whats the best because we don’t really eat it.  We’ve kept fish out of our vegetarian diet for years and T’s allergic to shellfish anyway.  But I did break my fish edge this time and tried some clam chowder from the reknowned The Bite in Menemsha.  It was meh.  Long wait for a tiny cup of cream and maybe 4-5 tiny clam morsels. (I guess its’ changed)   This is usually the spot for clam chow but i have to say for breaking the muscle/clam/ameoba barrier it was sub par and not worth the hype.  But no matter where you go on the island I hear the lobster will not let you down.  So don’t stray and get specials, apparently just get the lobster. Read every review on MV.  Lobster customers are never disappointed.

-Ally’s General Store Cafe? (the back ally) has some good vegetarian wrap /sandwiche options.  Not bad if you are in West Tisbury but maybe not worth the ride over if you’re not.

-If you are craving sweeties, then head to Fiddleheads.  Best damn brownies on the island and other good pasteries/bread to boot.  Not to mention if you are missing some hard to find ingredients that Cronig’s Market doesn’t have then this place might have it. Oh my god and PIES i forgot to specify the PIES. so good.

-Oh and if you haven’t ever tried the back door donuts that have been going on forever then you should head around the corner of 5 Post Office Sq.  Unfortunately people have caught on over the years and now you have to wait in a super long line for fresh amazing donuts if you don’t arrive an hour before opening (7pm).  Actually, it used to be a hush hush thing like in many cities where bakers are up at 2 am getting ready for the next day and a local stumbles by and scores a fresh amazing pastery. Now it is a structured marketing gain for the buisness. And totally worth the wait.

Don’t worry about bringing too much over to the island.  There is a  Stop n Shop and its not outrageous pricing.  Also most people say bring your own liquor over if you drink, but honestly liquor was cheaper and beer was steaper but by not too much depending on where you were coming from.  So just fill up on gas if you are bringing a car and everything will be fine because you can still find good deals on this increasingly popular island.

Please share your favorite spots in the comments below.

NY Veggie Update

If you are visiting the outskirts of NYC, just a bit more upstate it can get a little tricky finding some mostly vegetarian menus.  For the most part you can get by with a salad here and there but if you find yourself near Pine Bush in Orange/Ulster County NY then check out Pure City.  Although the main courses may seem quite expensive, the portions are pretty big.

And don’t leave without trying the vegan cheesecake with raspberry sauce, it is amazing.

Ulster County near the towns of New Paltz and Poughkeepsie also has more of a variety of vegetarian restaurants;  One of my favorites being Lemongrass down the main street in New Paltz.  As a college student living in New Paltz, my roomates and I loved using FastLane; which I could see being beneficial to travelers with no car who just want to stay in for the night.  Check it out!

And if you are further south in Orange County, the town of Warwick has a great café called The Tuscan which offers a variety of super awesome wraps, salads, and sammies for vegetarians.  I honestly can’t get enough of their buffalo tofu wrap, and stop in whenever I’m in town.

Feel free to share your NY restaurant suggestions, meat and veggie alike in the comments below!

Maria’s Alemania

If you haven’t checked out Maria’s Alemania Bakery and Restaurant on the corner of Hermano Miguel and Mariscal Sucre then you have to go there right now.  They have the best bread in town; and that is saying a lot because there are a ton of good panaderias in town.  What I like about them is that they make pan de agua.  Most bakeries here only have pan de leche or pan dulce; they are good too but sometimes I want my bread without the milk.  Not to mention, some of their german pastries really hit the spot.  And just like Nectar, you won’t feel embarrassed trying out your spanish there, she’s a great lady.