Aliciousfood: Raw Bites

Long had I been wanting to try myself at a batch of delicious raw power balls and so far my excuse had been that we didn’t have a food processor. Now that this versatile Bosch-beauty has made an entrance into our kitchen, this excuse was lamer than ever.

Therefore, I searched the web to finally mix and mingle my own recipe from my most trusted sources.

Little by little I put the following ingredients into the blender:

  • approx. 200g dates, apricots and raisins (half/ half and a hand full of raisins)
  • approx 150g shredded almonds and cashews (100g almonds, 50g cashews)
  • 2 TS shredded coconut
  • 1 TS sesame
  • 1 TS chia seeds
  • 1 TS cocoa

The blender wasn’t positively impressed but did its job well enough – and I must admit that it was really quick and easy to clean.

Raw bites in the making

All that was left for me to do was to form little balls – 30 of them to be exact – and put them in the fridge after I had “quality-tested” a couple of them.

Super easy! Super tasty too :)

And you can get a lot more creative than I did by roasting the nuts, adding spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, chili, ginger, adding more exotic fruit such as mangos or pineapples, experimenting with different kinds of seeds – the possibilities are pretty endless.

Have you ever eaten or even made-your-own raw bites?

Aliciouslyvegan: The environment

Having lived an omnivore life in an omnivore environment for almost 32 years without so much as contemplating a change in diet until very recently, people’s reactions to my new lifestyle naturally were mixed. Some were supportive, many weren’t, all of them had questions or remarks to comment on my personal choice.

It’s not like I went out to tell anyone – actually, besides my closest friends and my mother I only told persons who asked that I wasn’t going to eat animal products any more. However, once the word got around – especially at work -, people I’ve never even talked to will try to confront me for example over lunch.

The following cartoon describes best how ridiculous most of these conversations feel to me:

Seriously, had I started a radical diet, joined a cult or decided to shave my head, I wouldn’t have faced more controversy.

Vegans among you will know what I’m talking about. The first question will inevitably be “Why?”. When I explain that I consider this healthy, the conversation can go into two different directions.

A) The honestly interested conversation or – more often than not -
B) The stupid questioning/ lecturing.

While I’m always willing to answer questions that come from wanting to know more about a certain subject, I have zero tolerance for those who confront me with their “wisdom” and try to “save me”.

Please, if anyone in your surroundings decides to go vegan and you think vegans are stupid – just keep it to yourself, unless they ask your opinion. You wouldn’t want to be constantly reminded of what others think of your lifestyle choices. It’s called privacy. Please respect that.

 

Aliciousprojects: My Balcony Garden – Plans for 2014

As the days are getting longer, brighter and considerably warmer, my gardener’s hands are itching to start planting things (really, anything) again.

Therefore, some 3 weeks ago, I sawed some of the seeds I had gathered from last year’s yield as well as seeds from packets I hadn’t gotten around to planting last year: Fuzzy Wuzzy tomatoes, large chilies my older brother had provided me with, rather spicy Pretty in Purple-chilies, strawberry-spinach, regular spinach and arugula as well as parsley.

I put them behind the glass wall connecting our kitchen to the balcony and just like last year, everything began to sprout after a couple of days. In the meanwhile, some seeds have already grown into little plants.

My plan is to transplant them the weekend after next and to slowly start exposing them to the outside world (a few hours at a time only) so they can get used to not being indoors all day long. Also the three beautiful flower crates, in which I grow herbs and which spent the winter in the staircase (not too cold, not too dark), will be allowed outside again from approximately this weekend.

From 11-13 April 2014, this year’s Raritätenbörse (Rare Plant Fair) will take place at the Botanical Gardens of the University of Vienna. Needless to say, this very weekend was marked in my beloved Moleskine calendar months ago and it goes without saying that I will most likely spend more than I had originally budgeted (and slightly more than I can sanely carry) at the market stall of Arche Noah .

Which will then be spread over the sunniest spots of our apartment before it will finally be released into bigger containers and onto the balcony upon my return from Chicago (in early May). Which will be supplemented by a couple of other things I’ll “need to get” until then.

Where do you get your seedlings from? Are you buying new plants every year and if so, where from? Or are you “growing your own”?

Aliciousprojects: My Balcony Garden – First Steps

When Mr A and I were looking for a new apartment in 2012, we specifically looked for a place with a balcony, because we wanted to be able to go outside and I also had this romantic idea of trying my luck with a tomato or basil plant.

By May we had a pretty well-stocked garden and eventually we were eating home-grown herbs and vegetables until October.

Therefore, I’m planning on taking it up a step this year by growing a greater variety of fruit and veg and being less afraid I could kill something because a) I will most definitely kill at least one plant (possibly coriander) and b) I assume that just like last year, most plants will grow despite my LTC.

Almost by accident (via the amazing, weekly Stadtspionin newsletter) I heard of the Raritätenbörse (Rare Plant Fair) that takes place each year over the course of a weekend at the Botanical Gardens of the University of Vienna.

Actually, I only wanted to buy a plumeria plant there (which I did) but when I walked around I quickly came across Arche Noah , a wonderful organisation that promotes biodiversity and sells cultural plants and seeds of old or uncommon varieties of fruit and veg.

My aim was to only buy what I could carry but I barely made it home – in my arms a box filled with different kinds of tomatoes, eggplant, strawberries, salad and herbs to be nursed inside for a few weeks before being put outside.

The money I had received for my birthday I put into soil and containers (and some more plants, because once you start there’s no going back) and my journey as an urban gardener began.

Without any knowledge of what to do, it seems I mostly did the right things (or the plants I bought were extremely durable) because most plants grew and delivered fruit over the course of the summer.

Fruit and veg you’ve tended to and grown yourself always taste better than what you bought at the supermarket. There’s nothing superior to sitting in the afternoon sun, picking a tomato and biting into the warm, juicy fruit. This, if nothing else, is luxury. This, if nothing else, is also healthy and sustainable – especially if you water you plants with rain water (something I’m not always able to do). It is also very simple – if you have a window that gets a lot of sunshine, you won’t even need a balcony and will be able to grow your tomatoes, basil, peppers and arugula on the windowsill or a shelf.

Are you growing any sorts of plants (edible or not) in your apartment yet? What is your experience? Green or black thumb?

Aliciousbirthday: Thank you, everyone!

Last week I turned 32. On the one hand, birthdays have never been a big deal for me in terms of “OMG, I’m already XY years old“ (except for my 16th and 18th birthdays, which were the days I was finally allowed to drive a moped/ car).

They are big deals when it comes to getting excited about having my very special day, however.

This year, my birthday was especially memorable: at work I was hugged and kissed and even given presents and sung “Happy Birthday“ to and was also allowed to leave early and skip the otherwise compulsory workshop at night.

My Facebook wall was plastered with countless birthday messages, making me feel ever the more special.

At home, Mr A had turned one of our dinner chairs into a throne for his princess, bought a piece of our favourite vegan carrot cake at Maran Vegan and even found a candle that plays “Happy birthday” (see videos linked).

And that was even before our second memorable dinner at Tian.

Mr A went beyond anything I may have sanely expected and bought me a beautiful infinity ring from New One, which is probably the most perfect gift I’ve ever received from a boyfriend (together with the equally wonderful infinity necklace from the same collection he gave me for Christmas). As it was slightly too big and the new ring is still being made, I cannot yet show it here. However, be certain that I will, once it’s in my hands or much rather on my hand.

Since a day is not nearly enough for a birthday, Mr A and I always plan „birthday weekends“ for each other: On Saturday, he took me to Neusiedler See for a walk in the National Park near Illmitz (which we cut short due to the hefty gale) and a coffee at Podersdorf (which didn’t happen because we – just like others – weren’t served by the obviously overexerted staff), neither of which I much minded, simply enjoying being driven around, taking in the beautiful landscape.

On Sunday, we had breakfast at Ströck Feierabend, then walked through the 3rd district to KunstHausWien for the Andreas H. Bitesnich exhibition „25 Years of Photography“. Ever since I saw his „Nudes“ for the first time, I’ve been a huge fan of his to me extremely aesthetically appealing photos. Not only are his nudes perfectly orchestrated, also his travel and street photography moves something within me. There was not a single picture in the whole collection that didn’t strike a chord or another. I am far from being a connoisseur of art – be it music, visual art, dancing, acting or similar. Either I like something or I don’t. His art – as well as how he talks about it in interviews – I like. A lot.

This wasn’t it, however. There was also a dinner at a friend’s place yesterday, a day at St. Martins Therme with my best friend today and the whole family thing is going to happen tomorrow.

Who said a birthday couldn’t be celebrated for the rest of the month?

Aliciouseats: Ströck Feierabend

As part of my birthday present, knowing how I enjoy trying new places, Mr A had made a reservation at the recently opened Ströck Feierabend for Sunday morning.

I hadn’t yet spoken with anyone who’d actually been there and rarely give much about bloggers’ reviews, since I am under the impression that only those who like something will write about it while the rest will stay quiet so as not to spoil similar invitations for the future. Therefore, I was in for a surprise. And what a surprise!

Anyways, we got there just on time and were shown a table in the middle of the room, right next to a big table with parents & their toddlers. Realising a table for two at the window was empty as well, I kindly asked the waiter whether we could switch tables. He hesitated for a second and then said ” Hmmm, they did specifically ask for a table at the window…but they won’t be here for another hour and I’m sure we’ll find another window table for them“. (They did).

Wow.

We ordered our breakfasts, I of course chose the vegan option, and were served our hot and cold drinks soon after. With the coffees came a mini brioche that didn’t look all that vegan too me. When I asked the waitress, if she knew whether there was any egg or milk in it she immediately went to the kitchen to ask and came back with “I’m sorry but there is indeed egg in it. Would you like something else instead?“

Excuse me? I thought I had died and gone to service-heaven. Did she really ask me if she could bring me something else to accommodate my very personal choice of lifestyle?!?!?! Mr A had heard it as well so she must have actually said that. (This was the second time, by the way, he mentioned that I should definitely blog about this place)

The food was great, so were the coffee and tea – and the bowls and plates with little knobs on them, which seem to have been specifically designed and made for Ströck Feierabend (at least that’s what their bottoms said. Yes, I turned them).

But even if the food hadn’t been as perfect, I am not sure we would have noticed, being totally in love with the waitresses and waiters, their honest (or very well trained) friendliness and smiles and customer-oriented way of doing a really great job indeed.

We will absolutely be coming back.

Aliciouseats: Tian revisited

For my birthday, Mr A once more took me out to Tian for dinner. They played the game with him: when he asked if there would be a vegan option they needed to “call him back“, even though when we arrived the waitress explained that I would simply be able to choose my 4, 5 or 6 courses from the set meals as well as a-la-carte.

Also, he had reserved a table for 6pm and received a phone call at 5.50pm, “confirming“ his reservation for 7pm. You may well imagine me rolling my eyes at this point. We were already on our way – I was wearing heels – but chose to not make a big deal of it and take a stroll around the city instead, since it was an especially balmy evening and spring was just about to start (at 5.57pm to be exact).

When we arrived at Tian, the same level of unobtrusive attention, that had enchanted us last time, was again bestowed upon us. We ordered and it only took some minutes before the first (of a total of 6 or 7 – I lost count) amuse gueule(s) arrived.

Mr A and I both chose 4 courses. While he decided to go with the Alphart Menu (skipping the cold entrée and the cheese – and the wine, for course) I had:

  • Radicchio Ceriolo with bloody orange and black nut
  • Deep Purple & Earl Grey with bergamot
  • Wintergarden with winter vegetables and vadouvan (an old herbused in bread)
  • Vegan „Sacher“ Cake from Manjari chocolate and apricot

with a lovely glass of red wine with the main course (2011 Blaufränkisch “Ried Gmärk” from E. Triebaumer in Rust).

Once more, our tasted buds went into multiple orgasm mode. We were simply overwhelmed by the playful balance of forceful and subtle, how every bite had ist own distinctive taste and how all these tastes melted together into something very very wonderful.

On the way home, we mostly contemplated in silence and at home, soon fell into a deep, sated sleep.

The Michelin-Star they were awarded just over a week ago is definitely very well deserved.  Just saying…

Have you had the pleasure of dining at Tian yet? If so, please share your experience in the comments below.

Alicioustravels: A Weekend in Gosau

When we drove through Gosau way back in 2010 to hike to Hinterer Gosausee, Mr A mentioned that he would like to go skiing there one day. Therefore, I gave him a skiing weekend in Gosau as a present for his next birthday. Since we moved apartments last year and neither had time nor funds to realise this adventure, we postponed it for a year. Now the time was right.

We took Friday off work and left early on Thursday to have 3 full days at our convenience – or rather for his, since it was his birthday weekend and he was the one to decide what we were to do.

Friday was world-class: sunny, blue skies, almost too warm, barely anyone on the slopes and both of us had picked the perfect skies (his more aggressive, mine gemütlich). We were out all day, only pausing for Skiwasser (ski water, raspberry cordial and water) once, enjoying the day to the fullest. It was bliss.

At night we went to the pizzeria, whose employee had so quickly replied to my inquiry re milk and eggs in their pizza/ pasta, and I was much looking forward to a decent sized pizza. However, when we got there, we learned that the non-smoking area was “currently unavailable” and would be all weekend. “But no one is smoking here right now”, said the lady behind the bar – with a chock-full ashtray in front of her – who obviously didn’t understand what our problem was.

Luckily, we found an alternative close-by: Gasthof Brandwirt.
To be sure and not to upset the kitchen (yet) I chose a salad without dressing and a large plate of chips – both were tasty. Mr A had a turkey schnitzel which looked and smelled absolutely delicious.

The next day, Mr A was still exhausted and the weather forecast was very windy with rain from approximately midday.

We therefore chose to walk around Altausseer See, something we’ve been doing every time we’ve been to Salzkammergut. It’s an easy all-weather walk of some 6 or 7km in the most beautiful setting. When the weather is clear one can see the glacier of Dachstein sparkling in the east and in summer there are numerous boats out on the water.

We walked really slowly this time, stopping for photos and to climb a rock, as there was absolutely no need to rush.

Afterwards, we were contemplating driving to Bad Ischl for coffee & cake at Zauner, however, we decided against it and drove back to our apartment instead, where we collapsed on the bed and slept for the next couple of hours. So relaxing!!! That’s what a holiday should be like: do whatever you want and if you want to do nothing but sleep – sleep.

For dinner, we had made a reservation at Brandwirt, where I noticed they had changed the menu and the vegetable mix that had been there the day before was off. There was only one vegetarian meal – cheese in breadcrumbs, the veggie staple in traditional Austrian restaurants. So I asked the waitress if they had any vegan options, explaining how this meant no meat, no milk, no cheese, no eggs. She patiently went back to the kitchen to inquire numerous times but never came up with anything I could eat. I suggested vegetables with rice but the rice was already prepared – with butter.

I finally ended up with vegetables and potatoes which tasted exactly how the traditional Austrian imagines vegan food: dull. They were completely un-seasoned, not even properly salted. No parsley. Nothing. Even though the veggies were steamed to perfection and the potatoes were cooked to the point, I couldn’t find much enjoyment in a meal prepared with so little love.

Again, Mr A’s gourmet pan (Feinschmeckerpfandl) smelled and looked amazing. It allegedly tasted exactly the way it looked.

On top of that, our landlady lectured me every morning how bad my choice of diet was and how cruel of me to have Mr A eat his schnitzel alone. Needless to say, I was too polite and didn’t care enough to lecture back.

It rained through the night and was still pouring down on Sunday morning. We once more took Zauner into consideration but omitted it for a coffee at McD (I know) for the sheer reason of being able to get there dry and not having to walk in the rain.

We arrived back in Vienna just after noon and enjoyed having enough time to actually arrive, then put away our things and have a relaxed, home-cooked dinner.

Aliciouseats: Breakfast at Augustin

On Sunday, which was a SUNday indeed, Mr A and I revisited one of our favourite breakfast haunts in Vienna:  Das Augustin.

From outside, it looks dark and unwelcoming and certainly not like a place I would voluntarily visit. From the inside, however, it is absolutely lovely: upholstered chairs, an antique-y bar setting, dark wooden panelling, chandeliers and – for summer – a simply gorgeous courtyard. There is always a fresh flower on each table and the food is simply divine. The restaurant does have a smoking section but it is at the very back of the restaurant and only accessible through a small door, so the stench usually is not THAT bad. For weekend breakfasts, however, Das Augustin is now a non-smoking venue, something I greatly appreciate.

The last couple of times we went, the service was really (REALLY) bad: lazy waitresses who forgot half the order and tried to charge you things you had never consumed/ received, rolled their eyes at you when you ordered a glass of tab water with your coffee etc.

This time however, we were more than pleasantly surprised: everyone was super-attentive and despite the (usual weekend) crowd we received both our drinks and breakfasts after only a few minutes. We were actually asked if we wanted glasses of tap water with our order. Best of all, now there is even a vegan option, which of course I had to try.

Looks delicious, doesn’t it?

It’s called Go Vegan and consists of a (warm) wrap (lettuce, smoky tofu, tomato and avocado) with a soy-based lime dip and porridge (oats, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, nuts – and cardamom! I was in love) with maple syrup on the side. I was awesome! Very tasty, freshly prepared and not too filling, but enough for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

Mr A went with the staple Basic Breakfast (two bread rolls, butter, jam, honey, nutella) and was equally exited – especially over his cappuccino which he called “sensational”.

We are definitely coming back :)

Two things you will want to keep in mind: First, make a reservation! We saw countless people being turned away because they were fully booked way past lunch time. And second, especially if you are a non-smoker, it is advised to ask for a table in the front part of the restaurant, not the room where smoking is usually allowed, because it still reeks of cold cigarette smoke in there. Which is, frankly, disgusting.